Columbia Water seeks rate hike
Columbia Water seeks rate hike BY JON RUTTER, Staff Writer
The Columbia Water Company is asking the state to approve a $773,210 rate increase for its Columbia Division.
The proposal filed Thursday with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission would raise rates for various categories of customers between 21.06 and 21.11 percent.
The additional revenue would be used to cover growing operating expenses and service costs, including recovery of about $4.3 million in capital improvements to the Columbia Division water system.
The proposal would not affect customers in the company's Marietta Division, which is made up of Marietta Borough and East Donegal Township in Lancaster County and Hellam Township in York County.
The increase is proposed to take effect June 24.
It is the first such request for the Columbia Division since 2008. The PUC approved an 8.2 percent rate increase in that case, according to Columbia Water Company general manager David Lewis, who said officials had asked for more.
PUC spokeswoman Denise McCracken said the state typically takes seven to nine months to investigate whether a proposal is justified. Requests might not be granted in full.
PUC holds public hearings in the affected community, according to McCracken. An administrative law judge also considers information from evidentiary hearings before recommending a decision to the commissioners.
The proposed hike would boost the monthly bill of a residential customer using 3,000 gallons of water a month from $25.03 to $30.31.
A commercial customer using 1,000 gallons of water a month would pay $2.90 more, and an industrial customer consuming that amount would pay an additional $14.94.
The bill for a metered public customer using 6,000 gallons of water a month would increase by $20.89.
Lewis said the company's request is less than it appears when a June 2011 rate decrease is factored in.
Lewis noted that ratepayers' bills were lowered significantly almost two years ago after the private water company completed debt service on a Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority loan.
Lewis said the company has, among other things over the past four years, constructed a pumping station; replaced aging cast iron mains and about 2,250 old water meters; introduced remote meter reading; and installed a rapid alert warning system, mixers and tanks.
Water systems are "very capital intensive," Lewis added. "If you look at what we're requesting now, it works out to about a penny a gallon."
Customers can get more information by calling the water company at 684-2188.
nCustomers in Columbia Division may see increases of more than 20 percent.