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Citizens Energy to take over city's water, sewer utilities

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has struck a preliminary deal with Citizens Energy Group to transfer the city’s water and sewer utilities to the public charitable trust.

The agreement is expected to generate more than $425 million in funding for local infrastructure improvements, and Citizens has agreed to assume $1.5 billion in debt associated with the utilities.

Officials announced the plan at a news conference Wednesday morning, culminating seven months of deliberation.

In July, Ballard issued requests for information from companies interested in operating the city’s water and sewer systems. The city’s water utility now is operated under a long-term contract with Veolia Water, the sewage plants by United Water.

United Water and Veolia were among the 23 firms filing proposals with the city in recent months. Also among them was Citizens, which provides gas, steam and chilled water service to the city.

Citizens said that as a public charitable trust it can secure tax-exempt financing at favorable rates.

“The transfer proposed today heeds the lessons of history by keeping our community’s water and wastewater systems in the hands of the people,” Citizens CEO Carey Lykins said in a prepared statement.

The utility estimates that by 2025, combined water and wastewater rates will be 25 percent lower than they would have been under city ownership—thanks to an estimated $40 million in expected annual savings tied to the consolidation.

This story has been updated.

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