While most people may have a general sense of the market value of a home or business, it’s not so easy to apply accurate values to a utility. Not only do prices change across markets, but decades of adding to these systems may mean municipalities or private owners lose track of built assets sprawling across (and under) a cityscape or rural area. Although a utility valuation may not be something a municipality seeks out on a regular basis, there are actually a number of beneficial reasons to go through this process. Consider the following five reasons to conduct a utility valuation.


    Perhaps the best-known reason to seek a valuation is to get the best price from the sale of a utility asset. Much like selling a house or car, the starting point for a utility sale is understanding how much an asset is worth and a seller or buyer who consults an industry partner will have a much more realistic sense of the asset’s value and be able to plan financing and strategies accordingly. A thorough review of the available reports, inspections and other documents is the first step in honing in on the true value of a utility asset.

    When a municipality has a utility valuation, it has a stronger place from which to negotiate in the event of a sale. The risk of not doing a utility valuation is that the seller is subject to the terms set by the other side of the transaction. Becoming an educated partner helps sellers determine whether or not they’re getting a good deal. Without an accurate valuation, owners could miss out on a significant amount of value from the transaction. Equally important, an inaccurate sale price could mean beginning a transaction only to have regulatory agencies stop it in its tracks due to an inappropriate market value.

    Considering building new infrastructure or buying adjacent assets? Considering consolidation, regionalization or other cooperative venture with other nearby systems? Before you begin drawing up those plans and agreements, it pays to take a step back and understand what is already in place. An asset valuation can often demonstrate that it’s more cost-effective to buy or consolidate assets than to build them. The reason can be that, in many cases, municipalities are not fully aware of the extent of their assets or other nearby facilities. Part of the valuation work is looking for missing data and potential consolidations or regionalizations— for example, buried or separate assets that have been forgotten over time or weren’t documented correctly. Even if the valuation process doesn’t uncover forgotten assets, it can help with new projects. Such an effort can leverage an accurate utility system valuation for more favorable financing conditions for a new build or new partnerships.

    A valuation can help a municipality ensure it’s levying an appropriate amount in property taxes upon privately-owned utilities and other assets within its corporate limits. Municipalities rely heavily on property taxes, which are directly related to the value of the assets within their corporation limits. Many utilities, including electric utilities, telecom or even private solar farms, self-report the value of their assets, which then represents their tax burden. An asset valuation performed on behalf of the taxing authority or municipality of those utility assets can serve as a due diligence check to ensure assets are being appropriately taxed for public services, safety, and costs of public education.
    In the event of a disaster, one would assume that insurance will cover the replacement of assets — but this assumption can cost municipalities. By conducting a detailed valuation, municipalities can ensure their assets are appropriately insured. This process can also provide proof of property value and be particularly valuable in making a future claim.\


Ignorance may be bliss, but knowing the full value of owned assets makes for a stronger all-around position from which to make strategic decisions. By doing the legwork today to understand utility asset value, municipalities can make better decisions for their citizens and rate payers.

Click here to download our full utility valuation guide, “YOUR GUIDE TO UTILITY VALUATION: Strategies for Maximizing Your Water and Wastewater Asset’s Value.”