West Virginia American Water Company is corresponding with a number of PSDs around the state about the status of public-private water extension projects.
The company cut the projects last summer after the state Public Service Commission approved a smaller rate increase than WVAWC had originally sought in 2011.
The PSC later ordered the company to reconnect with the public-private partners, many of them local public service districts, to reevaluate what can be done to move the projects along. The preliminary assessment of the work was recently completed and is moving forward.
“We’ve reached back out to our public partners to outline an approach for how our company is going to be able to invest in those projects a certain amount per customer,” said WVAWC spokesperson Laura Jordan. “We want to give them the information they need to move forward with the rest of the planning and design for each of these projects.”
There are 11 projects in limbo. Those include the Leatherwood and Reamer Hill project in Kanawha County, four water projects in Boone County, two in Lewis County, three in Mercer County and one in Webster County.
“For every project on a case by case basis we’ll look at it in two steps,” said Jordan. “We’ll look at the pre-planning process and the budgetary part of it. On the second step we’ll reevaluate it after our engineering, design, and operational analysis. We can determine our company’s per customer investment in each of these projects..”
The level of WVAWC’s commitment to each will hinge on the per-customer cost and the number of customers developers of each project can guarantee. Jordan says the more customers who are willing to commit to taking water service, the less it will cost, but there needs to be some guarantee of service numbers before the company will be able to issue their final financial commitment.
“We need each of our public partners to guarantee a certain number of customers,” Jordan said. “If they don’t there will be something to correct that. If there are more customers then we’ll give them a credit back for the additional customers brought on by these extensions.”
The company’s final analysis of its costs is due at the PSC by the first of the year. Jordan says it allows all of the partners to see where they stand on funding from West Virginia American Water and whether the project is feasible to move forward.