Connecticut Water filed a general rate case application with the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) on October 3, 2023, proposing to change the rates charged to customers.
The application begins a public process conducted by PURA, with the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) and the State Attorney General’s (AG) office representing customers’ interests in the proceeding. During the rate case, PURA, OCC and the AG will analyze and review the cost of providing water service to customers so rates can be set to reflect reasonable and prudent expenses. Customers and the public will have an opportunity to comment on the application. PURA has 270 days to review the application, and approved rates will go into effect soon after.
“The primary drivers of this request are the more than $135 million invested in our water and wastewater system infrastructure that have been made to ensure reliable service and high-quality drinking water for families and communities, and higher operating costs driven by inflation, neither of which are included in current water rates,” said Craig J. Patla, president of Connecticut Water.
PURA regulation uses a historic test year, which means that utilities are only allowed to recover infrastructure investments after projects are completed and in service and that PURA has determined they are providing a benefit to customers. Likewise, Connecticut Water is operating on expense levels reviewed and authorized in the last general rate case (GRC). Since the last GRC, the cost of energy, treatment chemicals, labor and borrowing has increased, but are not recovered in rates for water service.
“We look-forward to demonstrating to PURA and other stakeholders that we have made prudent decisions and are efficiently operating our business while delivering world-class service and a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water,” said Patla.
If the request is approved as proposed, annual revenues will increase by approximately $21 million, or 18%, over current authorized revenues and would be effective on or about July 1, 2024. PURA will determine through the rate case process the actual level and distribution of any approved rate increase, but it is expected that the amount of the increase will vary based on location or rate division within the company and customer class — residential, commercial, industrial or municipal.
Among the numerous infrastructure investments made by the company:
- Solar arrays in Clinton, Colchester, and Naugatuck that produce clean energy and reduce more costly energy purchases from the electric utility;
- $12M in a new ground water treatment facility in East Windsor;
- A 5.3 mile interconnection between the water systems in Somers and Stafford, including a new pump station and tank, for redundancy and more robust long-term supply capability;
- 3,500 feet of new main to significantly improve water quality in Middlebury; and
- A new 1 million gallon storage tank in Plainfield.
Among the other proposals in the rate application:
- Expanding the low-income Water Rate Assistance Program (WRAP) for eligible customers. Connecticut Water has offered a 15% discount on water bills through the WRAP since 2021 and was the first water utility in the state to offer this type of program; and,
- To mitigate the impacts on municipal budgets in communities where Connecticut Water provides public fire protection through fire hydrants on its water systems, the proposed increase in public fire charges is 5% for most municipalities
In addition to expanding WRAP, Connecticut Water is proposing to continue its H2O – Help 2 Our Customers assistance program, offering payment plans and financial assistance to eligible customers directly and through it partnership with Operation Fuel.