Water Industry News
Four dollar/month increase panics Pine Bluff
By Bobbie Crockett/OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF
A decision on United Water
Arkansas Inc.'s proposed rate increase is expected by mid-July.
Proposed increases for
residential, industrial and other customers range from 2.1 percent to
17 percent based on meter size and usage.
Pine Bluff residents had an
opportunity to comment on the proposal during a public comment hearing
before Burl Rotenberry, an administrative law judge, on June 24.
The Arkansas Public Service
Commission has granted Rotenberry the authority to make a decision in
the case, said Cody Hiland, rule and commodity liaison for the
Arkansas Public Service Commission.
That decision is expected by the
middle of this month, he said, adding that any appeal would go before
the three-member PSC.
The general staff of the PSC has
been reviewing documents and doing research in the rate case over the
last several months.
The staff, which operates
independently of the commission, reached a tentative settlement
agreement with the utility on June 21.
By law, a utility company is
entitled to a reasonable rate of return on its investment in addition
to the expenses.
Under the settlement proposal,
the overall rate increase for residential customers would be 15.32
percent. A resident with a 5/8-inch water meter paying $24.57 per
month would see their water bill increase by $3.80 to $28.37.
United Water officials have said
the utility has not had a rate increase since 1997 and that it needs
to keep up with rising costs. The hike, which would affect 19,000 Pine
Bluff customers, would generate $927,834 annually.
Here's a look at how some bills
would change based on customer class and meter size:
* 5/8-inch residential meter
current bill: $30.98
proposed bill: $35.69
increase: $4.71 or 15.2
* 1 1/2-inch commercial and
current bill: $162.34
proposed bill: $167.05
increase: $4. 71 or 2.9
* 2-inch industrial meter
current bill: $268.70
proposed bill: $305.06
increase: $36.36 or 13.5
* 2-inch public authority meter
current bill: $287.48
proposed bill: $301.28
increase: $13.80 or 4.8