As the State and many communities across Connecticut continue to navigate through a challenging budget environment, the case for regional partnerships has never been stronger.

And with the approval of $5 million by the State Bond Commission recently, Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) and the Town of Sprague will provide another example of the practicality and value of communities working together to benefit the taxpayers in their towns.

With the advocacy of State Senator Cathy Osten and State Representatives Kevin Ryan and Emmett Riley, the State Bond Commission approved funding to support a number of our critical water infrastructure projects that will improve reliability and quality for everyone served by NPU, including customers in Lebanon, Bozrah, Franklin, Montville, Preston, Lisbon and the Mohegan Tribal Authority.

Just as importantly, this funding will also allow NPU to extend our water service into Sprague to provide an emergency backup for the town. As a result, the taxpayers of Sprague will avoid the multi-million expense of developing a new water supply to meet their needs in the future, just as the other seven communities that are part of our regional water system have.

With state and local budget challenges unlikely to be resolved in the near-term, additional opportunities for regionalization will be all the more critical – and valuable to taxpayers. And as a four-service municipal utility, NPU is very excited about the next, biggest opportunity for regionalization that is less than a mile down Route 12.

The Town of Preston and the Mohegan Tribe are on the verge of a multi-faceted project on the former State Hospital site with a potential value of several hundred million dollars. Because this property is adjacent to Norwich, NPU is well-positioned to provide critical services to a neighboring community that will help them reduce the burden on their taxpayers and the overall costs of the development.

NPU will be ready to provide natural gas, water, wastewater and electric services to the 388-acre site. Partnering with NPU means reduced costs for the developers and Preston; the additional revenues are good for NPU and the taxpayers of Norwich because our charter requires that we return 10% of our gross revenues to the City’s General Fund – $80 million over the past 10 years. And new revenues for NPU could mean lower taxes for Norwich residents.

Complex issues require creativity and flexibility. NPU has the ability and experience to provide both to any community in the region looking for a partner.