Sunday, June 17, 2018
Business

Aqua Utilities looks to sell its Florida water and sewer systems

Aqua Utilities has put out the for sale sign.

The private utility, long the target of unhappy customers who complain they pay too much for poor quality water and sewer service, made an initial offer Thursday to sell all of its Florida assets to a multicounty government agency that acquires private water companies.

Aqua submitted a letter to the six-member board of the Florida Governmental Utility Authority to sell its Florida water and sewer systems for about $95 million, according to Pasco Utilities director Bruce Kennedy.

Those assets include 58 water and 27 wastewater systems in 17 counties. The utility has 23,500 customers statewide, including about 3,000 customers in Jasmine Lakes, Palm Terrace and Zephyr Shores. Kennedy said board members directed FGUA staffers to begin exploring the deal. He said Aqua is looking for a quick sale.

"There's a lot of work to be done, but at least it presents an opportunity," Kennedy said. "They also don't want this to linger."

Kennedy said he's not sure if Aqua's initial sale price is a good deal, adding that would be a major issue staffers would research.

FGUA would have to get an agreement from each local government where the systems are located before it can move forward on the deal.

A spokeswoman for Aqua declined to comment on the offer.

The move is likely welcome news to the many customers who have complained about high bills and poor quality and customer service. Aqua has some of the highest rates in Pasco. Customers in Jasmine Lakes who use 7,000 gallons a month pay $140 a month for water and sewer; similar customers in Palm Terrace and Zephyr Shores pay $156.

In February, the company won a $2.57 million rate increase from the Public Service Commission, slightly less than the $2.8 million the PSC's staff had recommended. The company's customer service was deemed "marginal" by the regulators.

Aqua Utilities Florida is a subsidiary of Aqua America, a Pennsylvania-based utility provider that serves about 3 million people in 10 states. In recent years, the company's website says, Aqua has acquired systems in some states while shedding others that "have little growth and profitability prospects."

FGUA considers itself a transitional agency that buys a private system, improves it and then turns it over to a local government. FGUA has made similar deals across Florida and in Pasco, including the 2009 purchase of Aloha Utilities and a deal earlier this year to buy Mad Hatter Utility, which had served portions of Land O'Lakes.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

SAN FRANCISCO - The cold, steely arm of Fernando the Barista swirled the foam of my matcha latte, set it down gently, and waved goodbye from inside a glass case. San Francisco, 2018. Where you can get robot pizza and robot salad, and now, a robot mat...
Published: 06/16/18
Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District take off

Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District take off

ST. PETERSBURG — Albert Whitted Airport wants to extend its main runway. But what would benefit the airport could also benefit the St. Pete Innovation District.Moving the runway would ease building restrictions around the airport, allowing the Univer...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Just when it seemed like Florida’s unemployment rate couldn’t get lower, it did. According to the state figures out Friday, Florida’s jobless rate dipped to a near 18-year low of 3.8 percent in May after holding steady at 3.9 percen...
Published: 06/15/18
St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

ST. PETERSBURG — A house in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast is a finalist in HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt contest. Built in 2007 in the Mission Revival style, the 4,000-square-foot home a block from Coffee Pot Bayou is among 12 nationwide in the "curb a...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Filling in a hole that was left by The Iron Yard’s exodus last year, a new computer coding school will open its doors to its first class in downtown St. Petersburg on July 23.The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate thro...
Published: 06/15/18
Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates, has bought Aventine at Boyton Beach, a 216-unit apartment community, for $43 million.Aventine, garden-style apartments that are 95 percent occupied, will be renovated and renamed "Verona at Boynton Beach."It i...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

The national battle between Big Beer and local craft breweries is playing out on the shelves of your neighborhood Publix — and some favorite Florida brewmakers are losing.The guild that represents Florida brewers says at least 12 small breweries have...
Published: 06/15/18
Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Memorial Day weekend was supposed to bring three productive days of home improvement for Will Mega, a dean at a North Philadelphia charter school.He’d go to two Lowe’s locations near his home in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield neighborhood for a grill and ...
Published: 06/15/18
McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

NEW YORK — McDonald’s said Friday it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its U.S. restaurants later this year.The burger chain and other fast-food comp...
Published: 06/15/18
Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

ST. PETERSBURG --- Among topics that stir passionate interest, two that rank high are medical marijuana and craft beers.A group of Tampa Bay entrepreneurs has ambitious plans to profit from both.They are leasing a vast warehouse space in St. Petersbu...
Published: 06/15/18