Aqua Virginia requests state approve 30 percent revenue hike

By Heather Michon

Aqua Virginia has filed a request with the State Corporation Commission that could raise rates for Fluvanna customers by approximately 30 percent.

The petition, filed on July 27, asks for a 33.88 percent increase in water rates and a 21.08 percent increase in wastewater rates. This would result in an increase in the company’s revenue by $6,911,013. 

In a July deposition supporting the rate increase request, company president John J Aulbach said:  “We understand that rate increases are never easy for our customers and the Company constantly endeavors to plan prudently for infrastructure upgrades and to reduce costs.”

He went on to say that in the three years since Aqua Virginia’s last base rate request, “the Company has repaired infrastructure, replaced aged infrastructure, and incurred an increase in operating expenses, all of which are not included in the current rates.” 

The impact of the increase on each customer’s bill is not yet clear. In his testimony, Aulbach only gave a hypothetical example of a residential customer using 3,420 gallons of water per day. Under the proposed rates, the customer would pay $735 per year, or $2.01 per day. However, Aulbach did not state how much that same hypothetical customer is paying under current rates. 

Aqua Virginia serves around 5,000 customers in Fluvanna County, including all of Lake Monticello and several of the surrounding developments and businesses.  

At the most recent meeting of the Lake Monticello Owners Association Board of Directors meeting, Community Development Chair Tom Diggs said the SCC was likely to allow Aqua to raise rates to some degree, but he was hopeful “we can hold it down.” 

The process of raising utility base rates takes many months. The initial filing was in late July  and the SCC hearing is scheduled for April 2024.

Utilities can choose to institute the proposed rate increases on an interim basis. In their filing, Aqua notes that these interim rates could begin as early as February 5, 2024. Customers are refunded if SCC ultimately rejects the petition.

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