US utility co-op to acquire town’s water division


The town of Cumberland in the US state of Indiana has agreed to sell its utility division Gem Water to rural utility cooperative NineStar Connect.

The town of Cumberland will file its plan to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Committee for approval as soon as it closes its 30-day petition period for residents.

The town currently serves 500 water consumers since taking ownership of Gem Water in 2010. The acquisition will increase the number of water consumers saved by NineStar Connect to 600.

Within two-years of acquiring Gem Water, NineStar Connect has plans to introduce its other services including sewerage, electric and high speed fiber, for Cumberland residents.

This will enable the provision of smart city services to improve public safety and quality of life for residents.

For instance, Central Indiana Communications, a subsidiary of NineStar Connect will build a fiber optic network that connects Cumberland’s town hall and other municipal facilities, including municipal parks and trails.

Security cameras will be installed in streets and public access to wi-fi boosted.

Michael Burrow, CEO of NineStar Connect, commented: “It is a mission of the NineStar board of directors to provide all co-op members [with] fiber to their homes and businesses. This allows for more efficient delivery of utility services and provides members with access to the fastest broadband services available anywhere in the United States.

“High speed fiber and a strong utility infrastructure are essential to a community’s ability to economically succeed and for residents to have a quality of place that maintains and enhances their property values.”

The acquisition is part of efforts by NineStar Connect to expand its operations. The firm converts its excess profits to capital credits. Over the last 10 years, NineStar has returned more than $4 million in cash back to its members by retiring its capital credits.

According to Cumberland Town Manager April Fisher, Cumberland considered purchase proposals from three other utilities. “NineStar has been a great partner in Hancock County, and has a history of working with the town of Cumberland on several economic development projects, including the Mt. Comfort Corridor initiative. We also believe our residents and Gem Water customers will benefit from NineStar being a locally-owned, locally-controlled nonprofit co-op utility.”