West Virginia American Water seeks 24 percent rate increase

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Your water bill could be going up as much as 24 percent. That’s what West Virginia American Water is asking the Public Service Commission to approve.

The company say’s they’ve already invested hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade their infrastructure. They also say the state’s falling population means they have to raise prices. But this isn’t the first time they’ve raised rates in recent years.

Heavy snow and dropping temperatures meant mains popping all over the region this winter. West Virginia American Water says they’re already taking your money to upgrade their system so that doesn’t happen. But the idea of shelling out more money is not going over well with customers.

“It seems the general public seems to resent it and I probably do too,” laughed Sarah Fox.

"I can't afford any more raises. I mean it's, something’s got to give. The government needs to do something about it,” said Nancy Means.

"It's frustrating but our hands are tied. There’s nothing we can do about it,” lamented Cindy Limer.

The water company said if the increase is approved by the Public Service Commission, the average customer will see nearly a $12 per month increase.

WSAZ contacted the water company about the proposal; they declined to do an on camera interview.

WSAZ also began investigating what the company has been asking for in terms of rate increased over the last 10 years. We found that since 2007, the company has raised rates five times, most recently by 15 percent in 2016.

The company also added a surcharge to customers’ bills last year. The company says that charge helps lessen this asked-for rate hike, but it does not cover all of their capital investments.

Right now, with this latest request, there’s nothing set in stone. Any approved increase will not take effect until next February.



ORIGINAL STORY
West Virginia American Water has filed an application with the Public Service Commission to increase water rates.

The company is citing the $200 million the company has invested in replacing and upgrading the aging infrastructure.

The company is seeking a rate increase of 24 percent or $32 million in additional revenue. According to WVAW, the average resident will see an increase of $11.67 per month. The company is also wanting an additional 24 percent increase in wastewater rates.

West Virginia Water Company points to ongoing infrastructure investments as about half of the fund requested.

They also say the continued decline in the number of customers and the amount that current customers use due to the region’s population loss.

According to West Virginia American Water President Brian Bruce said, “The vast majority of the costs we incur to provide water service to our customers are fixed costs and do not vary with the volume of water we sell,” Bruce continued. “Unfortunately, these usage and population declines do not lessen the company’s need to renew and replace aging infrastructure and satisfy increasingly stringent drinking water regulations. This case demonstrates that we have been good stewards of our customers’ monthly water payments and have kept our operating expenses relatively flat for the past 10 years by working more efficiently, improving processes, utilizing technology, and leveraging economies of scale.”

The PSC is expected to conduct a review of the company’s rate application. Any new rates established by the PSC in this case would not take effect until Feb. 28, 2019.



 
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