Water Rate Hearing Tonight
November 27, 2018
Water rates may be increasing for many local residents and businesses.
A public hearing is being held on tonight to get the views of Montgomery County residents regarding rate increases sought by Aqua Pennsylvania.
The hearing will start at 6:00 PM tonight at the Upper Dublin High School, located at 800 Loch Alsh Avenue in Fort Washington.
This private utility company provides water services in the Boroughs of Jenkintown and Rockledge as well as in the Townships of Abington, Cheltenham, Springfield, or Upper Dublin, among other communities.
"Under the proposals [from Aqua Pennsylvania], the average monthly bill for a residential Main Division water customer using 4,080 gallons per month would increase by $9.22 per month, from $59.85 to $69.07," according to a statement from the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
You can read the document detailing the rate increases by clicking here.
This hearing will provide an opportunity to "gather comments from concerned residents regarding the proposed water and wastewater rate increases by Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. and Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater," according to the statement from the PUC.
"Members of the public are welcome to attend the hearings and provide comments," the statement from the PUC continued. "[The]...testimony will become part of the record on which the PUC will issue its final decision."
Among tips offered by the PUC and by the Office of Consumer Advocate are:
"Prepare what you are going to say beforehand. Even though it is not required, you may want to write out your statement, which can be read.
Bring copies if you are attending an in-person hearing. If you have a written statement you would like to give to the judge, please bring two copies for the court reporter and several copies for the other participants.
Understand that parties in the case may want to ask you a question to clarify something you said."
Aqua Pennsylvania released a statement on August 17, 2018, regarding its requests for rate increases. Among its points: This is the first rate request since 2011 and that "Water would be priced at less than 2 cents per gallon."
"The primary reason for the request is the recovery of $2.2 billion...invested [by Aqua Pennsylvania] in infrastructure, including upgrades to its distribution and treatment systems to improve drinking water quality and service reliability throughout its water and wastewater operations," according to the statement from Aqua Pennsylvania.
"We have replaced more than 800 miles of aging water main, as well as valves, service lines and more than 19,000 fire hydrants throughout our approximately 5,800-mile distribution system," said Mr. Marc Lucca, President of Aqua Pennsylvania. He "added that a significant portion of Aqua’s capital program has been dedicated to upgrading and rehabilitating treatment plants and wells, including the installation of equipment to meet new, more stringent water quality requirements for increased sustained disinfection. It has also upgraded pumping stations, water storage tanks, and standby electrical systems."
"All of this work is to help ensure our customers and communities have reliable water and wastewater service," Mr. Lucca continued. "Because we’re conscious of family and commercial budgets, we’ve been able to minimize increases in expenses since the last rate request in 2011 to an annual average of less than 1 percent per year."
"Aqua has taken a proactive approach to these nationwide problems by prioritizing and systematically replacing a small percentage of our distribution systems annually, and maintaining and upgrading our treatment plants and other facilities on a regular basis," Mr. Lucca concluded.
More information is available on the website of Aqua Pennsylvania.
After the filing with the PUC in August, the PUC voted "on September 20, 2018,...to investigate the rate increase requests," according to the statement from the PUC. "Aqua Pennsylvania proposes to increase its annual operating revenues for water services by approximately $66.373 million (15.4 percent). Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater seeks a corresponding increase in its annual operating revenues for wastewater services by $5.369 million (40.1 percent). The total annual revenue increase request amounts to approximately $71.8 million."
While the PUC investigates these matters, "These revenue and rate increase requests are suspended for up to seven months and are assigned to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for evidentiary hearings and the issuance of recommended decisions or settlements," the statement from the PUC continued. "More information on the ratemaking process is available on the [PUC's]...website."
According to the PUC, "The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner."