Connecticut Water Proposes Substantial Rate Increase, Tiered Pricing

Connecticut Water is asking state regulators to allow a rate increase the company says would raise a typical residential water bill by $10.50 a month.

The Connecticut Water Company said in a news release that if the increase is approved its revenues would increase nearly 20 percent – a total of $20.2 million. The “typical” residential customer who uses 3,780 gallons of water per month would pay $10.50 more each month.

The company, serving nearly 350,000 customers across 60 Connecticut towns, said that the increase is needed to recover its costs for the more than $265 million the company has invested in its infrastructure since 2010. It would also cover rising costs since the company’s last general rate case in 2010, according to the release.

The company asked for the new rates to take effect Aug. 3.

“We understand that there is never a good time to request a rate increase. However, we believe the value of a reliable supply of safe drinking water is well worth the cost of a little more than a penny per gallon.” Connecticut Water President Maureen P. Westbrook said in the news release. “The infrastructure investments made over the past decade have made a tangible difference in service to our customers and the vitality of the communities served.” 

Among other improvements, Connecticut Water has invested in backup power systems at all of its critical facilities across the state, so “few, if any” of its customers have lost water service during power outages caused by extreme weather, Westbrook said in the release.

There have been rate increases since 2010 for the Water Infrastructure and Conservation Adjustment, which charges customers to recoup costs to replace aging water mains and make conservation-related investments. There was also a limited rate increase put into place in 2018 to pay for the construction of a $36 million water treatment plant, Connecticut Water spokesman Dan Meaney said.

The $265 million in infrastructure investment this rate increase seeks to recover is in addition to the conservation adjustment and the treatment plant, Meaney said. The company’s news release notes that it also had temporary rate reductions in 2019 due to a change in federal tax law.

The company’s application to the Public Utilities Regulatory also includes a proposed 5 percent increase of public fire protection charges for fire hydrants.

The application also includes a proposal for a 15 percent discounted low-income rate, and adding a higher cost tier for customers who use more than 15,000 gallons of water in a quarter – 5,000 gallons a month – to promote water conservation, according to the company.

PURA has 200 days to review the proposal, and there will be opportunities for public comment. The state Office of Consumer Counsel and office of Attorney General William Tong will officially represent customer interests in the case.

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