UPDATE 3/29/16 @ 7 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va (WSAZ) -- For only having five letters, West Virginians know that few words spur controversy like "water."
West Virginia American Water has informed the Charleston City Council and other local governments that it wants to place an extra surcharge on customers' monthly bills.
The Associated Press reports West Virginia American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre sent a letter to government officials in March 2016, stating the company intends to file a case with the Public Service Commission allowing the utility to place a separate charge on customers to cover future infrastructure projects.
"It blows my mind honestly, and I'm outraged," says Karan Ireland, a member of the Charleston City Council and steering member for Advocates for a Safe Water System.
Less than a month after the Public Service Commission PSC approved a 15.1 percent immediate rate hike for WVAW customers, the company says it is planning to file for an additional and separate surcharge, which means money out of customers' pockets to pay for future infrastructure projects.
"I had expected that they were gonna come back and ask for a surcharge, but I couldn't believe how quickly it happened. I was really surprised to see the letter and frankly, I'm outraged," Ireland said.
The water company says the surcharge will help them raise $52 million that the company says is necessary to make upgrades to their treatment plant in Fayette County and build large water mains.
Laura Jordan, a spokesperson for the water company, says the plans are still a work in progress. Jordan says it is still undecided when the company will file and how much they will even ask for.
In a statement to WSAZ she says, "The recent PSC order permits WVAW to seek approval of an Infrastructure Replacement Plan (IRP) surcharge program through a separate filing. WVAW is currently developing its IRP proposal and plans to file it with the PSC in the near future to support the company's infrastructure renewal efforts. The filing will outline infrastructure improvement plans for 2016 and 2017, which will undergo a prudency review by the PSC."
Ireland believes the public needs to hold the company accountable and "pay attention when you hear the words infrastructure improvements to find out what that really means," she says.
ORIGINAL STORY 3/29/16 @ 11:09 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia American Water has informed the Charleston city Council and other local governments that it wants to place an extra surcharge on customer's monthly bills.
The Associated Press reports West Virginia American Water President Jeffrey McIntyre sent a letter to government officials this month stating the company intends to file a case with the Public Service Commission allowing the utility to place a separate charge on customers to cover future infrastructure projects.
Company spokeswoman Laura Jordan says American Water plans to have the surcharge case submitted to the PSC soon. She couldn't confirm how much money the company will seek, but McIntyre says in his letter that the company plans to spend $52 million in 2016 on projects.
The projects include building large water mains and making upgrades to American Water's treatment plant in Fayette County.