Metering as a Service® is not privatization…. for a reason!
Published on May 15, 2021
President and Chief Consulting Officer at MeterSYS
The water industry has just learned of the agreement in principle for merger of the two largest water corporations in the world, Suez, and Veolia, both French companies, to create a mega company unrivaled in sized by any other private water company. At the same time, the Federal government is intending to release trillions of dollars into the public sector for infrastructure. How does this tidal wave of public resource influence for-profit, publicly traded companies? Well, we are not yet sure, but it does certainly get our attention and should get the attention of utility operators across the country. The potential for problems resulting from the intersection of large, multi-national for-profit companies controlling essential water and wastewater operations with massive amounts of public dollars is high. As publicly traded companies, both Suez and Veolia have a fundamental responsibility to deliver returns to their shareholders. Public utilities operate as an enterprise which maintain rates aligned with the cost of operations plus capital improvements. In summary, there is a fundamental difference between the mission of publicly traded companies and the enterprise operations of a governmental agency.
The golden ring for large, private sector companies in the utility space is privatization. These companies seek to establish monopoly control all aspects of operations and the influence on rates paid by customers to achieve targeted returns. Having worked in the electric utility industry, I have seen the differences between infrastructure reinvestments for regulated versus unregulated utilities and the impacts are astounding. It’s no surprise that during times of emergency, companies operating in an unregulated environment quickly show their vulnerabilities which ultimately impact the safety and wellbeing of their customers. For water, think Flint, Michigan.
At MeterSYS® we inform our customers of the benefits and risks of all options for metering technology and operations, so they are always in control of the solution and the outcomes. Our Metering as a Service® program delivers measured and sustainable results to our public utility clients while keeping agencies firmly in control of their utility operations and their service delivery to their customers. In fact, it was designed specifically to support utilities in a way that they could have operational coverage while maintaining governance and accountability that we think is so imperative. Metering as a Service is not privatization, and that is a good thing.
Andy Honeycutt, President and Chief Consulting Officer