Community members speak out against WV American Water’s proposed 28% rate increase
Residents say water company’s flawed priorities benefit shareholders but neglect infrastructure needs
Charleston, W.Va. – Dozens of residents turned out Monday evening to speak out against West Virginia American Water’s proposed 28% rate increase at the Public Service Commission.
Speaking before a Public Service Commission public hearing, members of Advocates for a Safe Water System and other concerned residents emphasized that West Virginia American Water’s priorities do not reflect the needs of ratepayers. Advocates for a Safe Water System pointed out that in 2014, the water company paid $5.7 million in shareholder dividends to its parent company, New Jersey-based American Water Works, and invested only $4.3 million in upgrades to water mains. The water company has said that, even if it obtains its requested rate increase, it will not significantly increase the rate of main replacement.
“West Virginia American Water’s shareholders should not be earning even more money when the company is failing at its basic job of delivering safe and reliable water,” said Paul Dalzell, a steering committee member of Advocates for a Safe Water System, who also spoke to the serious impact that a 28% rate increase would have on fixed-income residents.
At the public hearing, residents spoke to the Public Service Commission to express concerns with high water bills, main breaks and poor customer service.
Last month Advocates for a Safe Water System launched the Our Water campaign for a public takeover of West Virginia American Water. “What we’ve learned in the rate case emphasizes the need for a public water system,” said Karan Ireland, a Charleston city councilmember and steering committee member of Advocates for a Safe Water System. “The water company says they won't make the investments we need without higher profits. We need a public water system so that safe and reliable water can be the top priority.”
Advocates for a Safe Water System is an all-volunteer community organization formed in response to the January 2014 water crisis. The group will hold an information session and training for those wanting to know more about the about the Our Water campaign on Tuesday, November 10th from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Kanawha County Public Library main branch in downtown Charleston.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission must rule on the proposed rate increase by February 2016. Documents in the case can be accessed through the Public Service Commission’s website by searching for case number 15-0676-W-42T.