Pascoag Utility District & the Harrisville Fire District Water Department-Merger Progresses

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Our two local utilities (Harrisville Fire District Water Department and Pascoag Utility District) are pleased to announce that significant progress has been made in creating the new entity that would own and operate the current electric distribution system in Pascoag and Harrisville, and upon completion of the merger, also own and operate the water production and distribution system in the villages of Harrisville, Pascoag and parts of Oakland in Burrillville. The new entity, if approved by our customers, will be named the Clear River Electric and Water District.

This proposed merger makes sense in so many ways. Water production and distribution systems, in particular, are facing an increasingly complex world in regards to operations and regulatory compliance. Bringing the companies together will allow much more efficient operating processes, compliance requirements, and the search for new water supplies to secure potable water long into the future for all of our joint customers in Burrillville. Electric operations in Pascoag and Harrisville were brought together in 1957 for the same reasons, and it now makes sense to bring all electric and water operations under one roof, with one board of utility commissioners, one management and operations team, and with the right of all utility customers to have a vote in the future of the new company. Both teams have always strived to provide the best service to their customer base, and have always thought of themselves as being “consumer owned entities”, there to serve their customers in the most efficient manner.

Recent progress towards this merger goal includes the following:

  • The boards of each entity recently voted unanimously in favor of continuing to move the merger forward and to ultimately seek affirmation by voters of both the Harrisville Fire District and the Pascoag Utility District.
  • Each board unanimously voted to name the new entity Clear River Electric and Water District (“CREW”). A sample logo was created for the new entity (as seen above) which embraces the themes of our local river (the Clear River, symbolizing water) and our sun (symbolizing electricity). We will look to refine the logo once we know that our customers support the creation of this new electric and water district. We are planning customer informational sessions and special meetings for customer voting on the merger in March and/or early April.
  • Each board also unanimously supported commissioning a combined cost-of-service and rate study so that our customers can reflect on the financial aspects of combining our two utilities. This merger is expected to derive financial and operational efficiencies well into the future which will help us to meet upcoming capital and operating expenses in the most cost-effective manner. Although initial rates for some customers will be slightly higher than current rates, they will be less than if the two entities separated completely, and over time, rates will be reflective of a much more efficient organization which covers a larger customer base.
  • The merger team drafted the new charter and recently received the legislation draft from the Rhode Island General Assembly based on this charter that would be needed to officially separate the Harrisville water department from the Harrisville Fire District, and to combine the water and electric departments of both Harrisville and Pascoag into the new Clear River Electric and Water District. The intent is for this new charter to be voted on by the General Assembly in their 2024 session, which ends in June, with a planned implementation date for the new company on January 1, 2025.

The next steps include:

  • Scheduling customer informational meetings (March 25th at 6pm for Pascoag customers) and bringing the merger proposal to a special meeting (April 3rd at 6pm for Pascoag customers) of each entity for customer approval, and
  • Creating a new 7-member Board of utility commissioners for the new entity to begin on January 1, 2025 that would initially include 3 commissioners from each existing board and a 7th commissioner to be voted on by the new and expanded customer/member base in late 2024. Thereafter, all expiring terms of the commissioners would be voted on by the expanded customer/member base.

Al Palmisciano and Brayton Round, II, the respective chairpersons of each entity, have both stated their excitement with the productive and cordial discussions formulating this proposed merger. This merger will bring together two great districts that have worked closely and cooperatively together for many years.

Feel free to direct any questions you have to Mike Kirkwood, General Manager of Pascoag Utility District at 401-568-2459.

Albert Palmisciano                                                                 Brayton Round, II
Chairman, Pascoag Utility District Chairman        Harrisville Fire District Operating Committee 

Additional Documentation for Merger:

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