Hamilton Southeastern Utilities Acquisition
In July 2021, the City of Fishers announced its intent to purchase the Fishers assets of Hamilton Southeastern Utilities. The below information is intended to help inform residents of the details surrounding the transaction.
See the notice of adoption.
This page will be updated as procedural schedules are set for the transaction.
- July 1, 2021- Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern Utilities (“HSE”) enter into an Asset Purchase Agreement
- July 13, 2021- City of Fishers Board of Public Works & Safety (“Board”) approves the Acquisition, the execution of the Asset Purchase Agreement, and related matters (“July Board Resolution”).
- August 10, 2021- Board adopted a resolution recommending the issuance of sewage works revenue bonds necessary to complete the Acquisition to the City Council.
- August 16, 2021 - City Council conducts 1st reading of sewer revenue bond ordinance
- September 20, 2021- anticipated City Council vote on sewer revenue bond ordinance
- October 11, 2021 - City Council conducts 1st reading and holds a public hearing on Amended Sewer Rate Ordinance necessary to incorporate HSE customers into Fishers’ utility (The City is not proposing a rate increase)
- November 15, 2021- anticipated City Council vote on Amended Sewer Rate Ordinance
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Timeline
- July 8, 2021 -HSE filed its verified petition with the Commission seeking approval to transfer to Fishers the assets and facilities HSE used to serve the Certificates of Territorial Authority and indeterminate permits (together the “CTA”) comprising HSE’s Fishers service area (“Service Area”), and upon the closing of the Transaction, cancel HSE’s CTA’s comprising the Service Area.
- July 8, 2021 - Fishers filed its Petition to Intervene in support of HSE’s request for Commission approval to sell a portion of its sewer utility system to Fishers.
- July 19, 2021- Fishers is granted permission to intervene by the Commission.
- August 31, 2021- the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor (“OUCC”) filed its testimony recommending approval of the sale and transfer of the Assets to the City of Fishers.
- October 8, 2021- Evidentiary hearing before the Commission
- TBD - Final Order issued by the Commission
*Timelines are subject to procedural steps being completed by end of 2021.
City of Fishers Sewer Rate Case
Why is Fishers conducting a rate hearing?
Fishers needs to amend its sewer rate ordinance so that it can incorporate HSE’s Service Area and its current and future customers (“HSE Customers”) into Fishers Sewer Utility.
Will my sewer rates increase?
No. Your sewer rates are staying the same. If you are a current residential customer of Fishers’ Sewer Utility, you will continue to pay $31/EDU/month. If you are a current residential customer of HSE, you will continue to pay $39.75/EDU/month.
What will the exact rates and charges for each district be going forward?
- The rates and charges for each district will be the same rates and charges imposed on the district today.
- The City currently assesses customers in the Fishers Service Area certain rates and charges in accordance with Ordinance 101915 (“Fishers Rates”)
- HSE currently assesses HSE Customers certain rates and charges in accordance with a certain Tariff of HSE for the Provision of Sewage Disposal Service, as approved by the IURC on or around April 10, 2019, Cause No. 45135 (“HSE Rates”)
- The Fishers Rates and HSE Rates are not changing but being combined into the Fishers Sewer Utility.
I own property in Noblesville, why did I receive notice of the hearing?
Fishers Sewer Utility will be providing sewer service to a certain portion of Noblesville generally bounded by I-69, 146th Street, Olio Road, and Atlantic Road. This area is currently within HSE’s Service territory and will be assessed the HSE Rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does this mean to me as an HSE Utility customer?
If you are a resident of Fishers, your service and billing will be provided by the City of Fishers sewer utility (anticipated January 1, 2022). The City of Fishers does not anticipate any changes for customers outside of changing the rendering of payment to the City of Fishers in place of HSE Utilities.
I already receive sewer service through the City of Fishers, what does this mean for me?
You will not experience any changes to your service or rates.
Will my rate increase because of this purchase?
The City of Fishers does not anticipate increasing any sewer rates to finance this transaction.
I have had issues with my HSE Utility sewer infrastructure. How do I get it resolved now?
Continue working with HSE Utilities, which continues ownership and operations until the parties close on this transaction (anticipated December 2021). After closing (anticipated January 1, 2022) requests may be directed to the City of Fishers.
I have automatic billing set up with HSE Utilities, how do I get this transferred over to City of Fishers?
Continue paying your bill through HSE Utilities. Upon closing of the transaction, all existing HSE Utilities customers will be notified of account transition instructions. Billing from the City of Fishers is anticipated to begin January 1, 2022.
Does the City offer online or automatic billing?
Yes. All HSE Utility customers will receive information regarding setting up an online or automatic billing account upon completion of the purchase.
How does the City of Fishers plan on paying for this transaction? Will my taxes or rates increase?
The City of Fishers will present a sewer revenue bond to the City Council for approval. A sewer revenue bond is secured by the revenue received from the sewer utility for its operations. In other words, the purchase of this utility asset will be paid for by the revenues generated by the utility. The sewer revenue bonds are not subject to the constitutional debt limit.
Why does the City of Fishers want to buy HSE Utilities? What is the benefit?
The City is making a strategic investment to provide its community with complete ownership over all sewer assets within the city. Although HSE has provided sewer collection service to a large portion of our community, Fishers has always treated the effluent from HSE’s service area. In addition to treating the effluent of over 25,000 HSE customers, the City provides collection and treatment service to approximately 6,500 current Fishers’ customers. Fishers has continued to make necessary and proper capital investments in its utility while maintaining just and equitable rates that allow the City to remain competitive in economic growth and development. Further, the City’s treatment plant has sufficient capacity to account for its anticipated future growth. Due to these investments and the expertise of its staff, Fishers is well prepared to consolidate the utilities, bringing all wastewater collection and treatment, and local infrastructure development, under centralized management. To that end, utility customers can now have a single point of contact (the City) to triage any issue involving sewer service (i.e., billing, operations, development, inspections).
I have heard many communities are selling their utility assets to fund infrastructure. Why is Fishers purchasing this?
Unlike many communities which have deferred capital maintenance in their utility necessitating the sale, Fishers has made strategic investments in its municipal utility that allow for an acquisition like this to be seamless. For example, Fishers’ treatment plan has sufficient capacity to account for future growth of the community. Purchasing a utility allows the community to own the asset and make decisions regarding the asset in the best interest of the community.
How did you determine the sale price of the utility?
Both the City of Fishers and HSE Utilities conducted independent appraisals of the assets to be purchased. Based on the value of property, customer accounts, and revenues, the City of Fishers agreed upon the final sale price of $90 million, which is less than the appraised value of the asset.
What does the City of Fishers get in return for purchasing the utility?
In general, the City of Fishers will receive the assets of the Fishers portion of HSE Utilities. This includes all real estate, equipment and infrastructure, and customer accounts, among other operational assets.
What is the procedural process for approving the purchase of the utility?
As a regulated utility, HSE Utilities has filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, seeking permission to sell a portion of its assets to the City of Fishers. The City has filed a petition to intervene in that matter. The City anticipates the Commission conducting an evidentiary hearing in the Fall, 2021 and hopes to have a final order before the end of the year. Additionally, the City will seek various approvals from its Board of Public Works & Safety and City Council.
Will this increase operational costs for the City of Fishers if they’re increasing the number of customers they’re servicing?
The City of Fishers Department of Public Works, Wastewater Division already processes and treats all wastewater in Fishers, including HSE Utilities customers. With this acquisition, the department anticipates being able to improve operational efficiencies, thus reducing overall operational demand (on a per-customer basis) for wastewater in Fishers.
Is the City of Fishers capable of processing and treating stormwater and wastewater?
The City of Fishers Department of Public Works, Wastewater Division already processes and treats all wastewater in Fishers, including HSE Utilities customers. The Division, comprised of stormwater and wastewater professionals has years of experience in sewer infrastructure, processing, treatment, and monitoring.
The City of Fishers Announces Intent to Purchase a Portion of Hamilton Southeastern Utilities, No Rate Increase Anticipated
Hamilton Southeastern Utilities (HSE Utilities), an Indiana public utility corporation that provides wastewater collection service to portions of Fishers, filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) Thursday requesting the IURC’s approval to sell a portion of its sewer utility system to the City of Fishers (City). The City also filed a petition with the IURC, seeking to intervene in the matter in support of HSE Utilities’ request.
HSE Utilities has determined, subject to the approval of the IURC, to transfer substantially all of its assets for the Fishers Service Area to the City pursuant to an asset purchase agreement. Fishers has agreed to purchase the assets for $90 million, as may be adjusted in accordance with the agreement, which is less than the appraised value of the assets. The City anticipates issuing sewage revenue bonds to finance the acquisition and does not anticipate raising user rates to complete the financing.
“Through this acquisition, the City can make a strategic investment to provide its community with complete ownership over all sewer assets within Fishers,” said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness. “Due to strategic investments in our municipal utility and the expertise of our staff, the City is well prepared to consolidate the utilities and provide consistent service and support for all Fishers residents. To be able to finance this purchase without a single penny of increased rates while maintaining the level of service is a real win.”
In addition to currently treating the effluent of over 25,000 HSE customers, the City provides collection and treatment services to approximately 6,500 municipal utility customers. The City reasonably expects to gain certain operational efficiencies by consolidating both utilities.
The IURC will set an evidentiary hearing to review HSE Utilities’ petition this fall. The City will seek approval of the acquisition with its Board of Public Works and Safety and City Council throughout the coming months. Subject to the IURC’s approval, the parties anticipate closing on this transaction by the end of the year, and the City anticipates serving HSE Utilities’ customers on January 1, 2022.