Those West Virginia American Water customers who are struggling to pay their water bills could soon get a break through a new discount program.
West Virginia American Water Company (WVAWC) is launching a new program that will provide a 20 percent discount on water rates for certain low income households.
Laura Jordan with WVAWC said this will be a year round discount that qualifying customers will not have to re-enroll for every year as long as their benefits do not change.
“It’s just a way to be able to help the customer’s in greatest need while also recognizing the fact that rates still must support the huge amounts of investment that are needed to maintain infrastructure and replace infrastructure that’s aging,” said Jordan.
Under the program, the average residential household bill
(3,315 gallons) would be discounted from $39.11 to $31.29 per month and the minimum bill (1,500 gallons) would be discounted from $21.67 to $17.34 per month.
Jordan said it was a two year process to get to this point.
“We actually pursued legislation that was passed and then we had to work with the tax department as well as petition the Public Service Commission to allow this program to be something that we could offer to our customers,” said Jordan.
In order to qualify for the discount, one must be an American Water residential customer and currently receive at least one of the following: SSI (Supplemental Security Income), WV WORKS or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and be 60 years of age or older.
Jordan said the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources will determine who is eligible for the program and send out applications to be filled out by the qualifying customers and then sent back in.
Those who qualify should expect the applications in the mail within a couple weeks. If customers who know they qualify don’t get an application, Jordan recommends they contact their local DHHR office.
The program is underwritten by the state through a credit against the company’s business and occupation tax, therefore customers paying full water rates will not see increases to subsidize other West Virginia American Water customers through the program.
Jordan said the company estimates that between five and ten percent of their customers will qualify for the discount.