By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
A private utilities company wants to expand its territory in Ormond-by-the-Sea.
North Peninsula Utilities Corp. applied to the Florida Public Service Commission, according to its president and owner Tyree F. Wilson Jr.
"Basically North Peninsula Utilities is a waste water treatment plant that's run for the last 23 years and it's only at about 25 percent capacity," Mr. Wilson said. "We service about 600 homes in the Northern Peninsula."
"We started to get some calls from some of the seaside . . . particularly some of the condominiums," he said.
He pointed out the cost to connect to his service is small compared to if a local government was doing it.
"If the city or county arranges the hookup, they usually hit the consumer with a heavy impact fee (for installing the infrastructure)," Mr. Wilson said. "We're not allowed to charge one. We're allowed to charge for some construction, but we're not allowed to charge an impact fee."
He did not give any exact figures as to the total cost of running the pipes to the individual condos and homes except to say, "We think we can handle it."
NPUC anticipates the monthly fee will be sufficient to eventually recover the installation costs. Mr. Wilson said, "Our fee right now is around $32 a month."
The application for Expansion of Certificate also calls for a flat rate adjustment of 3 percent per year for five years starting April 1, 2015.
NPUC is the only FPSC certified wastewater utility in the Northern Peninsula portion of Volusia. Twenty-four oceanside small package plants (Self-contained waste water treatment plants) serve the area as well as several commercial and residential septic tanks.
"At one point the city required the developer to give the deed the package plant, and now the package plants . . . need to be replaced. And some of them are in really bad shape," Mr. Wilson said.
"We are working with the county and the city, trying to eliminate some of the septic tanks," he said. "If we expand and offer it (waste water service) the Public Service Commission ... out of Tallahassee requires that we give service to everybody. However, the connection, any of our connections, are not required. So if you're happy (with your service) and you don't want to pay whatever fee it is ... you don't have to.
"In the short run, mid term, we anticipated that basically there's no problem (with the current package plants handling the additional anticipated hookups.)
The expanded territory runs from 2220 Ocean Shore Blvd. at Sunlight Drive to 5500 Ocean Shore at Kingston Shores, and bordered by the Halifax River on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.
According to the application, NPUC has been approached by a number of condos showing interest in the availability of service to replace the respective condos' aging individual treatment facilities. The requests are all signed by Debbie Kreinest, the licensed community association manager of all the condos.
Responses to the requests from NPUC outline conceptual cost estimates for each condo. The estimates run from $32,000 for a 14-unit condo to $60,000 for a 40-unit condo, or an average cost for 192 condos of $1,682. All of the condos in question are owned by individuals.
The total number of potential multi-unit new customers is 907. There are also hundreds of individual houses in the territory area.
A postcard was sent to residents in the proposed territory dated Oct. 24, 2013, stating NPUC has applied for added territory in Volusia County, and gives the website of the PSC and Docket No 130209 for the 189 page application.
The card also stated, "Any objection to the application must be made in writing and filed with the Florida Public Service Commission by Nov. 24."
There was an item on the Nov. 19 Ormond Beach City Commission meeting to approve the sending of a letter of objection regarding the NPUC Application. It was pulled and not voted on.
"That was removed from the agenda," according to Ormond Beach City Manager Joyce Shanahan. "We're not sending a letter of objection at this time, because they have a notice provision that they have to meet with the Public Utilities Commission, and (NPUC) didn't meet that, so they're going to re-advertise (their application.) So, we still have our period to object. So we did not vote on it tonight and expect it to be back in a future agenda."
Residents' reaction to the plan is mixed.
Alma More of Oakview Circle said, "I have lived in this house for 50 years, and I like the way things are now. I also don't like the cost of doing this and the cost that will be afterwards."
While Ray Parkhurst of Avalon Drive said, "If (NPUC) is trying to get condos off private septic tanks that environmentally makes sense. I don't have a problem with it as long as the taxpayer doesn't have to pay the brunt of it. We're on a septic here at the house. If he's trying to improve his business by getting more customers at the same time it's helping the environment and those people are willing to pay for it, then I'm for it.
"I would like to get off of the septic, but I'm not capable of paying that kind of cost," Mr. Parkhurst said. "There's a background on this street. About five or seven years ago we voted down hooking up to storm sewer and septic because they wanted to assess each home owner, each lot owner, $13,000. So. I would not support hooking up to the system."
Cindy Muir, director of the Office of Public Information at the Florida Public Service commission, said the staff, "is still working on the (NPUC) application. There will be a (public) hearing (on the application) and customer meetings in the area, but I have no idea when to tell you when they will be held. Our staff has not seen the card (sent by NPUC), and they had nothing to do with it."
"At this point in time they haven't said anything about building any plants," she said. "(The application) is about adding to the territory."