Youngstown Thermal surcharges suspended
By Kalea Hall
Surcharges put in place in August on Youngstown Thermal customers have been suspended.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio commissioners suspended the surcharges during its Wednesday meeting.
“The PUCO wants to acknowledge and thank customers for the patience and understanding, and the receiver for his dedication and hard work,” Asim Z. Haque, PUCO chairman, said in a statement.
Reg Martin, receiver of Youngstown Thermal who has been working since August to put the utility’s finances in line, asked the commission to suspend the surcharges.
“We did not want to burden the customers anymore,” Martin said.
The work done in recent months at Youngstown Thermal has brought the company to where cash flow is pretty close to break even, Martin added.
Youngstown Thermal, which provides steam and chilled water service for heating and cooling purposes to about 40 downtown customers, could not ensure adequate service to its customers and was in danger of insolvency, so PUCO was asked to step in. Martin was appointed by the court in August to take over and fix the company’s financial struggles.
An emergency surcharge was put in place so the company could continue to pay its bills including payroll.
“It is positive, and we will continue to go forward,” Martin said of the ending surcharge. “We are doing things operationally that makes us more efficient. We are looking forward to a real good 2018.”
On Wednesday, Youngs-town City Council authorized the board of control to settle a dispute with Youngstown Thermal, which contended the city owed it about $160,000 in unpaid steam service to city hall caused by a broken meter owned by the company.
Youngstown Thermal contended the broken meter led to four-plus years of underbilling. The two sides have agreed to a $110,000 settlement. The deal calls for the city to pay $63,005.46 to Youngstown Thermal and give the company a $46,994.54 credit for future water billings.