Winter Storm Uri’s increased utility and storm damage costs to UCA will not be charged to UCA students.
“Fortunately, there are reserves built into the university’s budget to assist in major swings in costs related to utilities...repairs and replacements,” Diane Newton, the Vice President for Finance and Administration said.
Newton said that the damage from Winter Storm Uri is still being evaluated. “We continue to find areas of damage whether it is to roadways, roofs, damage from water infiltration, damage to trees or other areas,” Newton Said.
Winter Storm Uri’s freezing temperatures in February caused utility usage to increase in Conway.
We endured several days of the coldest temperatures in our lifetime,” Crystal Kemp, Conway Corp Chief Marketing Officer said.
At Conway Corp, the energy usage peak for Winter Storm Uri was 169MW on February 15th – a 21% increase from last February. Meanwhile, the water usage peak was 14.6 MGD (million-gallons-daily) on February 19th – a 93% increase from last February.
Conway Corp implemented its first ever controlled power outages – which impacted 6,800 Conway Corp customers. Furthermore, a voluntary water curtailment was also implemented to slow water usage.
Kemp also said that the freezing temperatures led to water main breaks and burst water pipes all over town.
To combat utility usage at UCA, Associate Vice President for Facilities, Larry Lawrence said that building temperatures were lowered on campus. “not very much due to concerns of freezing pipes, water lines, or equipment and also taking into consideration that we had students in apartments and Residence Halls,” Lawrence said.
“We know you can’t anticipate every event that may arise, but we do the best we can,” Newton said.
According to Newton, UCA is expected to receive an increased bill for electricity, natural gas, and water. “We know utilities will reflect the extreme weather just as it will for individual households,”Newton said.
While Conway Corp’s water- and energy-rates have stayed the same since Winter Storm Uri, a Power-Cost-Adjustment bill was added. This bill combats the increased price of energy from Winter Storm Uri.
Kemp said that the Power- Cost-Adjustment bill will increase from $0.002 per kWh in March to $0.0034 per kWh in April. “Conway Corp customers can expect to have a charge on their bills for the next several months,” Kemp said.
With a winter rate of $0.0485 per kWh, the total cost will be $0.0519 per kWh in April. June starts off the summer rate of $0.067 per kWh – a 38% increase from winter rates – and will be increased by the implemented bill.
However, according to Kemp Conway Corp does not make a profit on this charge.”
“Our goal is to serve our customers with excellence, to plan for the future and make sure our community has the services it needs,” Kemp said.
In her 20 years at Conway Corp, Kemp said that there have been some difficult storms both employees and the community have had to respond to. There was “an ice storm in 2000, a drought in 2006 where water had to be curtailed, [and] the floods on the Arkansas River in 2019 to name a few.”