Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Water Company seeks to raise rates by 16 percent by 2020

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Indiana American Water Company (IAWC) has filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to raise its rates for water service.

According to a statement released on Friday, IAWC would increase rates in two phases: the first, taking in effect in July 2019, would increase total revenues by 8.22 percent; the second, taking effect in July 2020, would increase total revenues by 8.57 percent.

“Public hearings and opportunities for public comment are part of the process, under the direction of the IURC,” IAWC noted.

If approved as requested, the typical residential bill would increase approximately $5.60 per month or 18 cents per day over the current rate, which IAWC said actually decreased on Aug. 1 by 4.4 because of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. When fully implemented, in July 2020, IAWC customers using 4,000 gallons of water per month would see an increase of 16 percent on their monthly bills.

“Indiana American Water’s rates are based on the true costs of providing water service as reviewed by the IURC,” IAWC said. “No rates will change until the IURC completes a comprehensive review of the request and determines it is reasonable and justified. By statute, the IURC is required to return an order regarding the company’s rate request within 300 days of the filing.”

“Ongoing infrastructure investments are the primary driver behind the request,” IAWC said. “The company is including more than $542 million of water infrastructure investments in its request. The investments are necessary to maintain and enhance service, water quality, system reliability, and fire protection capabilities for customers while keeping the cost of water service for most households their most affordable utility bill, at about a penny per gallon.”

The company last filed for new rates through a general rate filing in January 2014 and received an order from the IURC in January 2015.

“Indiana American Water has made significant investments in aging infrastructure and its treatment and distribution facilities to ensure service reliability, water quality and fire protection for the more than 1.3 million people who depend on us every day,” IAWC President Deborah Dewey said. “We are proud of our record of success in providing affordable water. These investments are critical to the public’s health and safety and the economic health of the communities we serve and will also contribute to the creation of nearly 9,000 jobs across the state.”

“We have also worked hard to hold our operating and maintenance expenses relatively flat by implementing efficiencies and leveraging technology and innovation throughout the workplace,” Dewey said “Our O&M expenses have risen at a rate below the inflation rate over the last decade. Our successes represent more than $10 million of savings for our customers over what our expenses would have been if allowed to grow with inflation.”

“At the same time,” Dewey added, “we have been able to maintain top quartile customer satisfaction and efficiency levels, enhance our water quality and environmental compliance record, reduce water loss in our distribution system, and significantly improve safety for our employees by reducing and improving our OSHA recordable incident rate, a measure of workplace health and safety, by 77 percent since our last rate filing.”

In NWI

Indiana American Water has provided details on more than $127 million of investment in its rate filing for the Northwest Indiana area, including nearly $67 million to replace or relocate water mains and hydrants, $23 million to install new meters and service lines, and approximately $38 million for improvements to pumping, treatment, storage, and operations facilities.

Major projects include upgrading the company's Borman Park water treatment facility by replacing existing 65-year-old pump station electrical equipment, converting from gaseous chlorine disinfection to liquid sodium hypochlorite to improve safety, and rehabilitating the original pump station and filter building structures.

Other projects in Northwest Indiana include constructing a new backwash water storage tank at the Borman Park treatment facility, replacing an intake structure in Lake Michigan, improvements to the Michigan Street service center, replacing an aging booster pump station along I-94 in Chesterton, and installing 2,100 feet of large-diameter water main to loop dead end mains near the Damon Run pumping station to improve water quality, system pressures and fire flows to the eastern portion of the company's northwest Indiana service area.

Aging Infrastructure

“Nationally, much of the nation’s critical water infrastructure is aging and is well past its useful life,” IAWC said. “The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) latest Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, issued every four years since 2001, earlier this year gave the nation’s water systems a D grade, and wastewater systems a D+ grade. This remains in line with the last few reports, and heightens the sense of urgency to take actions that will turn around the condition of the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure.”

“A 2016 study by the Indiana Finance Authority echoed the ASCE’s recommendations for significant investment in water infrastructure,” IAWC noted. “The report evaluated Indiana’s water infrastructure and estimated more than $2.3 billion in infrastructure needs for drinking water systems across the state, and found that an additional $815 million is needed annually to maintain the systems into the future.”

 

Posted 9/17/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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