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Increase Would Make PSD Rates Among WV’s Highest

By Staff | Feb 4, 2009

The Staff of the Public Service Commission is recommending that water rates for the Hundred Littleton Public Service District be increased to some of the highest in the state in order to repay a loan to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, even though it is not demanding repayment.

In its report, PSC Staff recommends a $17.20 per month water rate increase for a residential customer using the statewide average of 4,000 gallons per month.

That would bring the total monthly charge for that volume to $63.80, which would be the sixth highest rate in the state among 425 water utilities.

Before it was dissolved as a municipality, the Town of Littleton, one of the areas served by the PSC District, reported the lowest per capita income of any city in the state. For customers in Littleton, the PSC Staff recommended rates would consume 5.5 percent of median household income, whereas the average in the state for water is 1.1 percent.

District Board Member Eric Yost stated, “We filed the rate increase request because our cash flow was tight. We thought we needed a small rate increase. The District hasn’t paid the Department of Agriculture on its loan since 2004 and they haven’t been demanding payment. There is a request pending for the federal government to forgive that loan.

“We’ve lost a lot of customers since that loan was incurred and we’re hopeful the feds will forgive it. The PSC Staff rate recommendation will impose a harsh and needless burden upon our customers if approved by the commission,” Yost added.

The district’s sewer rates were increased by 62 percent in December 2008. PSC Staff and the district’s board support continuation of those rates. “The district hasn’t lost nearly as many sewer customers as it has water customers, so the district doesn’t have a strong case for loan forgiveness on sewer,” Yost continued. “In order to get the water loan forgiven, the district needs to show good faith by paying the sewer loan, which is also owed to the Department of Agriculture.”

The PSC Staff’s proposed water rate increase would be a 39.7 percent across-the-board increase. The sewer rate increase is 62.7 percent across-the-board increase, or rather a continuation of the previous increase. The PSC Staff also recommends changes in the district’s incidental charges, such as tap fees, reconnection fees, and security deposits. The full details of the rate case are available from the district at its offices and legal advertisements are appearing in this paper.

Anyone desiring to protest the changed rates and charges must do so, in writing, by Feb. 14 and refer to PSC Case No. 08-0945-PSWD-19A.

All protests should be addressed to the Executive Secretary, Public Service Commission of West Virginia, P.O. Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323.

To help the commission determine the justification for additional review and investigation, protests should be specific as to reasons that the changed rates and charges should be modified.

In addition, anyone desiring a hearing in this matter must demand a hearing in the letter of protest. If no hearing is demanded, the commission may affirm the proposed rates without a hearing.