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Local News

PAWC rate hike proposal would affect 770,000 PA households


Danielle Smith, Public News Service

If Pennsylvania American Water gets its latest rate hike, more than 770,000 water and wastewater customers in 37 counties would be affected.

For now, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has hit ‘pause’ on the proposed water and sewer rate hike, while it conducts its own investigation.

Patrick Cicero, Pennsylvania’s state consumer advocate, said the increase would boost the company’s total annual revenue for water services by $204 million. He pointed out the company estimates about a 20% increase in water bills, and not as much for sewer service customers.

“We anticipate that it’s going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% to 20% on each side, if they get what they want,” Cicero outlined. “It all depends on what the Public Utility Commission awards them, though. We don’t think they’re entitled to $204 million. We’re requesting a much smaller rate increase than that.”

The Public Utility Commission has until Aug. 7 to make a final decision. Cicero noted a family of three now pays about $70 a month for water, and the average wastewater customer pays $106. If they use more than 3,200 gallons of water, their bills would increase even more under the new plan.

Pennsylvania American Water has said it is making investments in its system, and collecting revenue from the rate hike will help pay for it. But Cicero pointed out the utility already received a $140 million rate increase in January of last year.

“Over that 18-month period of time, if they get everything they’ve wanted, they would be having a $343 million annual increase,” Cicero explained. “We’re concerned about customers — particularly low-income customers, but also moderate-income customers and seniors — and their ability to afford this.”

Despite hundreds of Pennsylvanians voicing their opposition at 12 public hearings, a water rate hike looms. Cicero said it is important for people to let their state lawmakers know how they feel about rate increases. He added they can also file formal or informal complaints online with the Public Utility Commission.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.