Aqua seeks rate increase

By Heather Michon

Aqua Virginia has informed customers that it is seeking a general increase in water and wastewater rates from the State Corporation Commission (SCC).

Details of the request, submitted to the SCC on July 30, were given to customers in their September bill. The company serves over 5,000 customers in Fluvanna County, including all of Lake Monticello and surrounding developments.

According to the filing, they are requesting “to increase the Company’s annual rate base revenue by approximately $1,732,585 per year,” which will “constitute a 10.8% increase in water revenues and a 3.4% increase in wastewater revenues, for a combined increase of 8.2%”

“Currently, the combined water and wastewater bill for an average Lake Monticello customer based on 3,400 gallons per month is $125.21, and the proposed bill is $133.14,” said Gretchen Toner, a spokesperson for Aqua. “If the SCC approves the proposal as requested, the difference would be $7.93.”

Toner said about 80 percent of the rate increase would “recover money already spent by Aqua on ongoing improvements and repairs to water and wastewater systems for customers” and the rest would cover operating costs.

The filing also asks the SCC for permission to change the way they charge customers for the use of grinder pumps. There are around 1,000 homes at Lake Monticello that require grinder pumps to carry their household wastewater into the sewer lines. The annual $400,000 price tag for the pumps is currently split equally among all Lake residents. Aqua is asking the SCC to consider making homeowners with grinders pay the full cost, which could add $400 a year to their water costs.

In a Notice For Order and Hearing, the SCC said that, due to the ongoing public health emergency and the potential economic impact on customers, “we will suspend Aqua’s proposed rates for 180 days, the maximum allowed by law.”

“We note that the proposed revenue requirement, if approved, would result in an increase to customer bills, and are sensitive to the effects of rate increases, especially in times such as these,” the SCC noted. “The Commission, however, must follow the laws applicable to this case, as well as the findings of fact supported by evidence in the record. That is what we will do in this proceeding.”

Utilities can institute proposed increases on an interim basis, to be refunded to customers if the SCC ultimately rejects the petition. In their notice, the SCC said Aqua could choose to begin implementing the increases starting January 27, 2021.

A public hearing is scheduled for April 21, 2021 at 10 a.m. Those wishing to leave a comment on the case can visit using case number PUR-2020-00106.






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