19 January 2016
Introduced by Del. Rob Bell, House Bill 611 contains some of the same provisions as Senate Bill 85, proposed by Sen. Tom Garrett.
The bill would make water and sewer companies subject to the same rules as other utilities, such as telephone and electric, in how they communicate with the State Corporation Commission (SCC).
When setting rates, rather than using more lucrative systems to subsidize lower-yielding systems, as some Lake Monticello residents say Aqua has done, the bill requires the SCC to consider only the cost of providing service to specific customer groups.
Rather than advertising rate increase requests in a newspaper, the bill requires public utilities to notify individual customers through mail or email.
“During the fall I had meetings with people who were concerned about the ways that Aqua Virginia appeared to be making decisions and the way the process with the SCC was being handled,” said Bell, when asked to explain why he proposed the bill.
Ida Swenson said that the Lake Monticello Aqua Virginia ad hoc committee, of which she was chair, “absolutely” had a role in bringing about the bill. She and Ken Schmalzbach went through legislation that forced changes in other states, then made a “wish list” referenced to existing regulations. “I took that list to Tom Garrett and Rob Bell,” Swenson said.
“Garrett took the whole thing and made it a bill,” Swenson said, “but Bell’s bill only does a few of the things on our list. It’s not as good a deal for us as the Senate bill. But it’s absolutely a step in the right direction if we can get it through.”
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