The Public Service Commission issued an order today granting a 15.1% rate increase to West Virginia American Water.
To say we are deeply disappointed in the Public Service Commission’s decision is an understatement. Despite the widespread concerns expressed in ratepayer comments and by multiple intervenors in the case, the Public Service Commission has chosen not to scrutinize the company’s investment priorities, or take into account its poor service, when setting rates. The Public Service Commission’s order fails to address the water company’s ongoing infrastructure problems. Under the terms of the order, we will not see any increased investment in replacing our water mains.
This is the eighth rate increase requested by WV American Water since 2000. While residential rates have increased more than 70% in that time, infrastructure problems have worsened and serious concerns remain about the safety of the system.
“This is an unacceptable blow to working West Virginia families,” said Katey Lauer of Advocates for a Safe Water System. “Neither the PSC nor West Virginia American Water are prioritizing the needs of everyday people in our state. We need a real solution to our water problems, and it’s clear from today’s order that this solution won’t come from West Virginia American Water or the PSC.”
This rate increase underscores the need for a regional public water system. The Public Service Commission’s process continues to fail West Virginia ratepayers. With this decision, West Virginia American Water now has the 4th highest rates among the 500 largest water systems in the country.
The water company’s proposed rate increase prioritized the company’s financial needs above the interests of ratepayers. Had WV American Water been granted the full rate increase, it would have doubled the dividends paid to WV American Water’s parent company, American Water, from $5.7 million to $11.5 million a year, without any increase in main replacement. We need a public water system where more of our rates can go towards providing the safe, reliable water we need, not higher profits for WV American Water.
Advocates for a Safe Water System will be hosting a meet-up for community members who want to learn more about this decision and get involved in the campaign for a public water system on Tuesday March 8th at 7pm at Starlings. More information about the event is available at ourwaterwv.org.
Advocates for a Safe Water System will be analyzing the details of today’s rate order and posting more information, including an informational video, about those details at www.ourwaterwv.org/blog within the next 48 hours.