Water, sewer utilities stink up Citizens’ earnings

Citizens Energy Group—which provides gas, water, wastewater and steam service—posted a loss of $11.8 million for 2012.

The public charitable trust’s most recent financial report shows the biggest loss—$12.9 million—came from the wastewater unit it purchased from the city in 2011.

Citizens’ steam unit lost $3.7 million, while the water utility recorded a $2.5 million loss.

It was the water utility, which Citizens also acquired from the city, that earned Citizens Energy a $31.6 million profit in 2011. That’s because the trust recorded a one-time, $49.6 million gain from severing a pension and retirement plan for employees of the water utility operated by Veolia Water under contract with the city.

Those employees are now covered under Citizens’ plan.

The city sold its water and wastewater operations to Citizens in a deal worth $1.9 billion. The proceeds are being used by the city to upgrade roads and bridges.

Citizens Energy is making massive upgrades to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, including the boring of a tunnel deep below the city to store excess storm water runoff.

The project is part of a consent agreement the city reached previously with federal regulators to address sewerage overflow into streams.

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