Four leaders of utility companies in and around Mesquite provided Mesquite Chamber of Commerce members an update on their present and future projects at the monthly luncheon Oct. 14.
Mendis Cooper, Overton Power District General Manager, Josh Tietjan from Reliance Connects, Deborah Gallow from Southwest Gas, and Kevin Brown, General Manager of Virgin Valley Water District provided an overview of their operations and then entertained audience questions.
Cooper said OPD’s main goals are improving the District’s financial picture, obtaining lower contract rates for power purchases, and investigating the possibility of solar and natural gas power projects in the next few years.
Gallow reviewed recent legislation passed in 2015 that allows Southwest Gas to more easily finance projects that would bring natural gas to small and rural areas like Mesquite. “A lack of natural gas in the Mesquite area puts it at an economic development disadvantage,” Gallow explained. “The legislators unanimously agreed to new laws the enable us to use different ways to obtain investments we need to bring natural gas to the area.”
Mesquite Regional Business, Inc. (MRBI) provided the State Legislature and Southwest Gas a list of at least 35 missed opportunities to bring new businesses to the area due directly to the lack of natural gas. “Certain manufacturing businesses and others use natural gas rather than electricity for their operations.”
Tietjan explained that Reliance Connects has expanded fiber optic transmission lines to about 80 percent of the Mesquite area. “We have about 30 percent of our customers switched to fiber optic at this time,” he said.
“We are offering businesses several new services and we are expanding our security business in Mesquite,” Tietjan explained.
He added that customers who want to have just an Internet access line without a telephone land line will have that option beginning sometime in 2016.
“We are working very diligently to improve our infrastructure,” Brown said as he presented a current look at the Virgin Valley Water District.
He described two upcoming projects that will help meet that goal. Water pipe replacement will begin shortly on Marilyn Redd Parkway and the middle section of Mesa Boulevard. Adding a two million gallon water storage tank to provide a backup supply for Sun City Mesquite is also on the list.
“From 2010 to now we’ve had about a 1.8 percent meter sales growth rate per year,” Brown said. “We were running about a million dollar budget deficit per year until the recent rate hike. Out of our approximately $10 million budget, we return about $4 million of that back to the local economy.
“We are looking at a back-up redundant pipe under the Virgin River. Our largest source of water is on the south side of the river and provides about 30 percent of Mesquite’s water. In the summertime without that source we would be on water rationing,” he remarked.