CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission may make a quick decision on a proposal that would allow West Virginia American Water Company to purchase the Boone-Raleigh Public Service District and replace its failing water system.
The PSC held a brief evidentiary hearing on the proposal Wednesday morning in Charleston. The parties involved in the proposed transaction have agreed to the terms of the sale. They filed a joint stipulation and agreement for settlement Monday.
The PSD includes approximately 470 customers along state Route 3 passing through several communities including Sylvester and Whitesville.
MORE Read terms of settlement here
The terms of the proposed settlement include West Virginia American’s purchase of the water system’s assets for $115,000; WVAWC connecting the system to its Kanawha Valley Treatment Plant system and the Boone-Raleigh customers paying the same rate for water as other WVAWC customers.
Rates could go up by as much as 58 percent. WVAWC External Affairs Manager Megan Hannah said the system has fallen significantly behind in repairs and upgrades because the rates haven’t changed in 17 years.
“These customers have not seen a rate change since 2002 which really speaks to the aspects of the system failing. There have been no upgrades to the system,” she said.
The average Boone-Raleigh PSD customer currently pays about $33.00 a month for water. The sale could send bills beyond the $50.00 mark.
Leaks have been the problem for the last several years. The PSD loses 85 percent of the water it sends through the system, Hannah said.
“It was unaccounted for. It was not reaching customers’ homes,” Hannah said. “One of the very first things that we are going to be doing is stabilizing that system and bring those customers into our Kanawha Valley footprint.”
Hannah said WVAWC is pleased with how Wednesday’s hearing went and hopeful for a speedy resolution. She said there are other smaller water systems in West Virginia that are experiencing similar problems.
“We are seeing that systems are distressed and failing across the state,” she said. “We feel like this is a good first step toward a greater resolution for the state of West Virginia but ultimately for these customers in Boone-Raleigh.”
West Virginia American is the largest water company in West Virginia with approximately 166,000 customers in 19 counties.