By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Members of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority approved an updated financial plan for the Ute Pipeline Project at its Wednesday meeting. The plan will be used as a tool to further secure funding at the state and federal levels.
The plan for the $500 million project, presented by Eric Harrigan of RBC Capital Markets, was updated to assume inflation costs and allow for manipulation of expenses, capital contributions and interest costs.
Harrigan said the additions also considered the maintenance costs of the project long after the actual pipeline is built. Harrigan said without this, the Authority is “just going to have an asset that’s depreciating.”
Harrigan said annual operation and maintenance expenses are projected at $6 million after construction in 2013 would be $11.2 million in 2034 with inflation.
The plan also showed the growth in revenue over time, from $1.3 million in 2014 to $25 million in 2044.
“It’s an incredible planning tool and helpful when you go to the (federal government) for money,” Harrigan said. “It shows after project completion, you’ll have continual cash flow.”
In other business at the meeting:
• Project Manager Paul van Gulick gave a report on state activities. He said as far as money is concerned, Gov. Susana Martinez is trying to focus on what is in the Capital Improvement Plans for the local municipalities and that the state is trying not to fund projects that can’t maintain themselves.
• In regard to federal activities, a congressional committee is currently reviewing Senate Bill 715, which guarantees funding for the projects as well as six other rural water projects in the country, according to van Gulick.
• Authority Chair Gayla Brumfield said she gave officials from Cannon Air Force Base a tour of the project site and intake structure for the pipeline. She said the project’s progress was well-received.
“They’re totally blown away with the project and are in support of it,” Brumfield said.
• Project engineer Barbara Crockett gave a design update for the second phase of the project. Crockett said engineers are working on a design for 90 miles of pipe that will stretch from Melrose to Cannon and Clovis.
“We’re also working on the Elida pump station,” she said.
• The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 19 in Grady.