CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company reached a rate-increase compromise with the state Public Service Commission’s consumer advocate agency Tuesday.
Though the plan must be formally approved by the PSC, Byron Harris of the Consumer Advocate Division projected “customers will be seeing approximately a 7-percent increase in their bills beginning October of this year.”
The water company initially sought to raise rates by 19.7 percent.
The average bill for WVAW’s average customer is currently $50 a month. The proposed rate hike would increase that by about $4.
Whereas the water company’s original request aimed to raise an additional $24 million annually, Harris said “we have managed to reach a settlement which limits their increase to $8.1 million.”
The Utility Workers of America and Steel of West Virginia were hoping for no increase at all. Two witnesses testified before the PSC on Monday that the company was not providing quality service and didn’t need or deserve a rate hike.
Harris said by coming to an agreement, the company gets a little, and the consumers don’t end up paying a whole lot.
“Any time you reach a settlement, it’s always a compromise. Our case showed that the company should have received, depending on what profit level you wanted to give them, between $3 million to $4.5 million,” explained Harris. “So we’ve come up from that to $8-million. Obviously the company has come down quite a bit from $24 million.”
Harris stressed the PSC has the final say.
“They can modify the settlement. They could reject the settlement. It’s ultimately their decision,” he said.
Part of the agreement is that WVAW will not ask for another rate increase until at least January of 2015.