Pa-American seeks water rate increase

Pennsylvania American Water is requesting the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission allow it to increase rates for customers within the commonwealth.

The requested increase would raise an average residential customer’s monthly bill to approximately $58.63, an increase of $6.12 per-month. According to a Pennsylvania American press release, the average residential customer uses 3,960 gallons of water per-month.

The increase would raise the price an average customer pays for one day’s worth of water to approximately $1.95 and their price per-gallon to approximately 1.5 cents.

The average commercial customer, using 22,000 gallons per-month, would see an increase from $231.57 to $254.10 per-month.

The average industrial customer, using 475,600 gallons per-month, would see their bill increase from $3,602.78 per-month to $3,840.67 per-month.

If passed, the increase would provide Pennsylvania American with approximately $58.6 million in additional revenue each year.

Pennsylvania American is citing infrastructure investments as driving the request.

According to their statement, Pennsylvania American will have invested approximately $731 million in system improvements since it last requested an increase in 2011.

Investments included treatment plants, storage tanks, wells, pumping stations, and 300 miles of pipe as well as other components of it’s more than 10,000 miles f water and sewer lines.

“This rate request is driven by the prudent capital investments that we’ve made to maintain and upgrade our infrastructure,” Pennsylvania American President Kathy Pape said. She went on to address aging state infrastructure saying, “We believe proactive capital improvements are more cost-effective and save money in the long run.”

According to an e-mail from External Affairs Manager for Western Pennsylvania Gary Lobaugh, these improvements include replacement of, “aging and undersized water mains along Rollins Street and United Alley,” in Warren in 2012.

“There is never a good time to ask for a rate increase, and we realize the economy is still recovering,” Lobaugh said. “Pennsylvania American Water has a responsibility to properly maintain and upgrade our systems to ensure quality, reliable water service and fire protection for the communities we serve. We believe it is only fair that we are reimbursed for these prudent and necessary investments.”

Pennsylvania American Water’s parent company, American Water, announced a net income increase of approximately $16 million over the first quarter of 2012 and a12 percent increase in dividends in a May 17 earnings report.

Pennsylvania American is requesting an effective date for new rates to begin of June 29, but its release notes the Public Utilities Commission typically suspends requests for up to nine months while investigating and analyzing requests, which would result in an effective date of Jan. 2014.

Pennsylvania American customers who wish to challenge the rate increase can:

Send a letter to the Public Utility Commission explaining why they object to the increase or with any other concerns they may have about Pennsylvania American. Attend or present testimony at a Public Utility Commission hearing on the matter. Hearings will only be held if the Commission opens an investigation into the request due to public interest or at Pennsylvania American’s request. For more information call 1-800-692-7380.

File a formal complaint. If you file a complaint, you are considered party to the case and have the opportunity to take part in all hearings on the increase request and receive all materials distributed to parties in the case. If no one files a formal complaint, the Public Utility Commission may rule on the request without without holding a hearing. Formal complaints must be filed by June 29.

The Public Utility Commission can be reached at Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265 or online at www.puc.state.pa.us.