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Water Industry News

05/05/2006

United Water requests 32% rate hike in Pennsylvania community -- no one seems to care

BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS STAFF WRITER
 
KINGSTON TWP. — The approximately 3,000 United Water customers in Dallas and Kingston Township may face a rate increase of up to 32 percent.

However, nobody showed up at the Kingston Township building Thursday to oppose — or approve — the proposed rate hike at a public hearing presided over by Administrative Law Judge Kandace F. Melillo.

In January, Harrisburg-based United Water asked the state Public Utility Commission for a $6.7 million overall rate increase, its first since 1997, to be spread out over the approximately 54,000 industrial and residential customers in eight counties.

“That’s what the company has asked for, but the PUC still has to review the proposal. In the vast majority of cases, the company does not get the full amount,” said attorney Edward Lanza of Saul Ewing, the Harrisburg law firm representing United Water.

The increase was suspended until after the PUC investigation. If it is granted, the average resident’s bill will go up from $28.40 a month to $35.96.

The $6.7 million is necessary for improvements throughout the company’s service area, including a computerized monitoring and control system, United Water vice president John Hollenbach said. In Luzerne County, there are 11 wells to maintain, including a new one that was installed at a cost of just under $750,000, United Water public relations director Bob Manbeck said.

State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, who requested the hearing, stated that a 32 percent rate increase “is excessive and unfairly impacts Kingston Township residents.”


eskrapits@citizensvoice.com