State agency slashes in half requested water-rate hike
Published 9:01 am, Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Area residents have been saved a major increase in their water bills when the state's utility regulators approved only half the increase requested by the Aquarion Water Co.
Following public hearings during the summer where speakers protested the 17 percent rate increase sought by the region's water company, the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority agreed Tuesday to give the water company an 8.6 percent increase.
Aquarion serves 47 towns and cities in Connecticut, including Fairfield, Westport, Bridgeport, Greenwich, New Fairfield, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford and Trumbull.
Aquarion officials had hoped to use the increase to fully fund an employee bonus program, make up for money the company contributed to charity and make cuts in insurance costs.
State Attorney General George Jepsen had opposed the rate increase.
"It's much bigger than anything we've seen," Jepsen said in an earlier interview. He said the increase would have earned the company about $33 million over three years.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau, one of the most persistent critics of the rate increase, said during the hearings that Aquarion had failed to explain to the general public why it had sought such a large increase.
In its March 28 rate filing, Aquarion proposed spreading the increase over a three-year period. The company supported its increase request by touting its recent investment in infrastructure improvements. Officials said consumption and cost increases outside its control also precipitated the rate filing.
But the regulators rejected Aquarion's three-year rate proposal, instead approving an 8.6 percent overall increase amounting to $13,915,886, which includes a 2 percent infrastructure surcharge previously approved as an add-on to customer bills.
Bridgeport-based Aquarion is a subsidiary of Aquarion Water Co., the largest investor-owned water company in Connecticut and in New England. It provides water services through 79 systems to more than 185,000 customers in Connecticut.