Wellspring announces first complete water sub-utility
Wellspring International, Inc., formerly Water Management Services, has created an operating division that intends to position itself as the nation's first complete water sub-utility.
SAN DIEGO, Jan. 2, 2001 (PRNewswire) — Wellspring International, Inc., formerly Water Management Services, has created an operating division that intends to position itself as the nation's first complete water sub-utility.
The new division, Wellspring Wireless Utility Services, intends to develop the water submetering business — a $10 billion U.S. market that is largely untapped — with its Aqura™ water submetering system, and a consortium of providers including Roto-Rooter for installation and maintenance, Web Services for customer sales and service, Utility Data Systems for meter reading, American States Water Company for billing and collection, and Academic Capital Group, Inc. for project financing.
Aqura is a point-of-use submetering system that uses advanced wireless technology. The system allows Wellspring to offer true water submetering for all building types. Nominally half of all apartments cannot be completely submetered with conventional utility meters because water lines are shared between apartment units. In such buildings, metering is required at each point of use inside apartments. Aqura is the only cost effective water submetering solution for such multi-story, multi-family apartment buildings.
"The demand for water submetering is huge, but suppliers have not always met owners' needs," said Brian Brittsan, Wellspring International president. "Until now, no one has offered point-of-use submetering or sub-utility services."
A common form of water cost recovery uses the ratio utility billing system or RUBS, which simply divides a building's total water use by the number of units and charges every unit the same amount. This practice is often considered unfair, and collection rates are low. The result is ill will and money lost by the property owner.
The market for submetering includes 32 million multi-family units in North America, of which 31 million remain to be submetered.
Wellspring's sub-utility will function like other utilities; it will provide the metering system, retain ownership, maintain it, read meters automatically, post data on its website for residents, send utility bills, collect payments, reimburse owners, and answer resident questions.
With Wellspring, property owners are expected to recover an average of $425 per apartment per year in utility expense. First, owners see an immediate increase in revenue. Second, the increased revenue and capital improvements will drive up appraised valuation by nominally $4000 per unit.
Additionally, Wellspring offers the entire system with no investment from property owners. "Particularly attractive to small owners, Wellspring offers to install and retain ownership so that there is no investment," CEO Wade Smith said. Wellspring makes a profit by charging residents a metering service fee.
In this age of increasing utility costs, the submetering of utilities has been popular. However, Smith says that "while metering electricity at each apartment is common and many owners are investing in capital improvements designed to save energy cost, water submetering has been largely overlooked."