CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia American Water Company President Jeff McIntyre told a group of state lawmakers Monday his company hopes to begin applying a 1,000 gallon credit to customers’ bills impacted by the water emergency with this week’s billing cycle.
McIntyre took questions from members of the House of Delegates Health Committee. He was asked about the credit he promised to customers in the early days of the emergency. McIntyre said a meeting is scheduled Tuesday with staff members of the state Public Service Commission.
“We bill essentially every day of the work week and we’ll start applying those credits this week,” McIntyre said.
He explained it would be a financial credit that will apply to even low-use customers in the nine-county area.
West Virginia American’s Kanawha Valley plant in Charleston was compromised Jan. 9 when the chemical Crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River from the Freedom Industries site just upstream from the plant. WVAWC issued a Do Not Use order for customers in a nine-county region. It was lifted by zones but lasted for about a week.
McIntyre was also asked Monday if WVAWC would seek a rate increase for the costs associated with the water emergency. He said he doesn’t know at this time.
“I haven’t looked into whether we are going to apply for a rate effect for this,” McIntyre said. “Obviously there will be lawsuits and insurance but I’m going to do everything I can to protect customers from rate increase.”
The company agreed when it was given its last increase by the PSC not to seek another rate hike on customers until 2015.
McIntyre said the company would continue supplying bulk water to the area from its plants in Huntington and Montgomery but he said at some point things will have to return to normal.
“You have to remember we are putting out good quality water into the system. It’s not a perpetual supply of bottled water or bulk water,” he said. “We intend to keep the bulk water in place for a period of time.”
McIntyre also said he’s already agreed to change all 16 carbon filter caps at the Kanawha Valley plant even though they were not compromised by the water emergency, but he said he has no timeline when the replacements will begin because of many water line breaks and tank drainings caused by the winter weather.
“Until we get all of our leaks fixed up and get flows down to a normal level–we can’t change the filters, but again the filters are not compromised,” he said. “I understand we have to go out and rebuild trust in the community and that’s a question that’s going to endure, so at the right time we are going to address that.”
McIntyre has promised to return to the committee Thursday to answer additional questions.