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Big Rivers believes utility sale benefits city, customers

Company’s stance is contrary to independent study
Updated: Jun. 20, 2021 at 5:23 PM CDT
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HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Henderson City Commissioners heard a presentation from Big Rivers Electric at their meeting Tuesday.

As we’ve reported, Big Rivers is trying to buy Henderson Municipal Power and Light.

[Previous: Henderson Utility Board unanimously votes on Big Rivers Electric Corporation’s proposal]

[Previous: Big River Electric Corp. presents purchase proposal for HMP&L]

Big Rivers Electric Corporation believes its offer to buy Henderson Municipal Power and Light would benefit both the city and its customers contrary to an earlier independent analysis. Company executives made their case in front of commissioners Tuesday.

No decision has been made, and it could be a few more weeks before the city commission takes a vote.

“I know we can’t make a mistake if we don’t do anything,” Mayor Austin expressed. “And I’m not sure if we make a mistake or not make a mistake if we do something. Just a lot to go through, a lot of study and a lot to think about.”

Commissioners could have voted on the sale at its last meeting two weeks ago. The process was paused because of an error found in an independent evaluation of the purchase offer. That study showed the sale would be negative for customers.

“We’re the ones who caught that 20-million-dollar error,” Big River CEO Bob Berry said. “It wasn’t a miscalculation. It was just an error. Had we not caught that error, I think they would’ve voted”

Berry, alongside teammates, recreated the study by using empirical data rather than assumptions. He says it shows the sale would be a 25-million-dollar gain to the city and 165-million-dollar benefit to its customers between now and 2035.

“We can guarantee what we’re going to do in that report,” Berry added. “They should hold HMP&L responsible for what they have in that report and make sure they can actually deliver what they say they’re going to in that report.”

The Mayor says even if the commission approves the sale, the deal won’t be done. It will then be on a ballot for registered voters in Henderson to decide. In the meantime, city leaders are checking to see if this multi-million-dollar sale would need to go through a bidding process.

Mayor Austin says the HMP&L utility commission is meeting on Monday. This body previously recommended the city should not go forward with the sale.

They are expected to reconsider this decision with the corrected information early next week.

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