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Millcreek Journal

Greg Bellon steps up as general manager to navigate Murray City Power through financial strain and rate hikes

Aug 10, 2023 02:35PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Newly appointed General Manager of Murray City Power, Greg Bellon, brings a wealth of experience and fresh perspectives to a utility that has recently faced significant financial challenges. The challenges have resulted in a $5-million transfer from the city’s power fund to assist Murray City Power in meeting the increased costs associated with purchasing power. Bellon views these challenges as an opportunity to impact and reshape the utility’s future positively.

Drawing on over three decades of experience in the municipal power industry, Bellon is confident in his ability to navigate the complexities of the utility sector. Bellon said, “With a solid technical and public administration education, I have developed a diverse background that has prepared me to lead a utility like Murray City Power.” He further noted, “The decision to take on the role as the new director at Murray City Power was motivated by my desire to make a positive impact on employees and the community.”

Murray City Power’s financial situation has led to the proposal of a rate hike, which might naturally concern its customers. However, Bellon aims to alleviate potential dissatisfaction through transparent and comprehensive communication.

Bellon said, “We want our customers to be well-informed, so we can build trust and work toward finding solutions that balance affordability with reliable service.”

Bellon is not just looking at immediate financial challenges; he has his eyes set on the future. Part of his forward-thinking strategy is a commitment to transition toward renewable energy sources. “Promoting renewable energy sources and sustainable practices is a priority for Murray City Power,” Bellon declared. “This includes increasing the percentage of renewable energy in our power generation mix so that we can contribute to a greener and more environmentally friendly future.”

Another facet of Bellon’s strategic plan is the development of a long-term outlook for Murray City Power that includes infrastructure improvement and a more efficient operation. 

“We are currently developing a master plan that will provide a comprehensive long-term outlook. This plan serves to evaluate the existing power utility and provide recommendations on how the city should prepare for the future by examining energy procurement, infrastructure improvement, funding, energy conservation and energy management,” Bellon said.

One of the significant challenges Bellon is well aware of is balancing the need for infrastructure upgrades with maintaining affordable power rates for customers. “The master plan will include a comprehensive evaluation of our infrastructure needs and will prioritize investments based on critical needs and long-term benefits,” Bellon said. “By making strategic investments and finding innovative solutions, we can strike a balance between infrastructure upgrades and affordable power rates.”

An important element of Bellon’s strategy for success involves nurturing and developing the workforce at Murray City Power. “Employee development and promoting a positive working environment are important to the success of Murray City Power. Our employees are offered training in apprenticeships, certificates of completion, safety training, tuition reimbursement, as well as other utility-focused training,” Bellon said.

Lastly, Bellon emphasized the importance of community involvement and collaboration with local government entities. “Engaging and collaborating with local government entities and community organizations is crucial for transparent and effective communication about our utility,” Bellon said. “We want all stakeholders to be engaged and informed.”

Bellon’s appointment comes on the heels of former Murray City Power General Manager Blaine Haacke’s abrupt resignation after 16 years of service to the city. Bellon had served as Murray City Powers Assistant General Manager.

At the time of Haacke’s resignation in March, Murray City Chief Communications Officer Tammy Kikuchi said, “Murray purchases wholesale power through contracts with other power generating plants. Over the winter months, the cost to purchase wholesale power increased dramatically. The increases are primarily due to higher natural gas costs, the drought affecting the Colorado River power generation, and curtailments of coal plants because of supply chain issues. Purchased power costs exceeded Murray City’s budget by over $7 million between December and March. Fortunately, the city has healthy reserves to absorb these increases. The city expects future costs to stabilize but still remain high. Consequently, the city has hired an industry consultant to conduct a rate study and recommend future rate increases.” λ