Baton Rouge-based Bernhard Capital Partners is preparing to make a bid to manage Lafayette Utilities Systems, the Daily Advertiser reports.
Co-founder Jim Bernhard says BCP can operate Lafayette Utilities System more efficiently than the city because of the company’s experience and that BCP will lower costs. The company plans to create a new subsidiary, NextGen, which would manage LUS and dozens of utility systems across the Southeast, Bernhard said during an address to the Lafayette Rotary Club last week.
Bernhard says BCP should complete its review of LUS and present a formal proposal for the management takeover within two weeks to Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux.
It’s unclear if the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority, which governs LUS, or the city-parish council would see the proposal next.
Also uncertain is whether the proposal can be brought before voters, because the Home Rule Charter doesn’t specifically allow for a vote on management of the utility system, says Lafayette councilman Bruce Conque.
Should the deal go through, NextGen’s headquarters would employ 1,000 workers and Bernhard says the company will invest at least $15 billion buying and managing municipal utility companies across the Southeast.
“Our hope is that we invest in Lafayette Utilities, and our greater hope is that the headquarters for this $15 billion investment is in Lafayette,” he says.