Pennsylvania American Water customers will see their rates go up next year.
According to a Thursday release from the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the typical residential customer’s water bill will go up almost $9 per month.
The PUC issued the release indicating that it had approved increases for PAW for both water and wastewater services.
The increase on the water side was “substantially lower than requested,” according to PUC, but the wastewater increase was “higher than requested.”
“We are pleased the PUC has approved this settlement, which reflects carefully negotiated terms that balance the customer’s interest with the much-needed ongoing investments made by the company,” Pennsylvania American Water President Justin Ladner said. “We also appreciate the diligence of all parties in the case that supported our company’s robust commitments to additional customer assistance funding and more targeted bill discounts to address affordability as it relates to household income.”
PAW serves about 5,400 water customers, representing more than 14,000 people, in Warren County. There are no PAW wastewater customers in Warren County.
“Pennsylvania American Water filed its rate request with the PUC on Apr. 29, 2022, seeking to adjust its rates by approximately $173 million,” according to a PAW release. Those dollars would help offset “over $1 billion in water and wastewater system investments the company will make through 2023 to continue providing safe and reliable service.”
PAW did not get the full $173 million it had requested.
“The settlement approved today allows for a combined total increase in PAWC’s annual water and wastewater revenues of $138,000,002 (16.6%), compared to the company’s original request for an increase of approximately $173.2 million (20.8%),” according to PUC. “Under the rates addressed in the settlement, the water bill for the typical residential customer will increase by $8.76 per month, from $60.48 to $69.24 (14.5%), rather than the $15.01 increase (24.8%) proposed in the original PAWC filing.”
“Also under the approved rates, the wastewater bill for a typical residential customer will increase by $30.00, from $76.65 to $106.65 per month (39.1%), rather than the $19.01 increase (24.9%) proposed in the original filing,” according to the PUC release.
The PUC added several service and assistance measures to the agreement – “The settlement also targets a number of consumer assistance and customer service issues, including a discount structure for PAWC’s H2O bill discount program; steps to identify potential barriers to enrolling in the discount program; increased contributions to PAWC’s hardship fund; targeted community outreach in areas of the PAWC service territory with higher percentages of customers below the federal poverty level; water main extension projects to address health and safety concerns; and performance objectives for PAWC’s customer service call center.”
“Through its H2O Help to Others Program, the company provides financial assistance to low-income customers who qualify, including emergency grants, bill discounts and water-saving devices and education,” according to the PAW release. “To continue addressing affordability, the agreement approved today includes an expanded, three-tiered approach to the company’s current low-income discount program. Under this expanded program, eligible households will receive monthly bill discounts of between 30 and 80 percent for water and wastewater service. Last year, customers received approximately $4.5 million in bill discounts under this program. As part of the agreement, the company will also increase its annual contribution to the H2O Help to Others grant program from $600,000 to $750,000.”
“As a company, we believe that the service we provide must be safe, reliable for fire protection, and resilient in the face of floods, droughts, and other weather-related risks,” continued Ladner. “At the same time, it also must be affordable, which is why we are an industry leader in customer assistance programs. We also cannot underestimate the importance of the environmental improvements achieved through our significant wastewater system investments, which improve the quality of our rivers and streams. We continue seeking ways to accomplish all of these simultaneously, and we believe that the agreement approved today does just that.”