Many Long Island American Water customers have been waiting for months for this opportunity.
Since late April, when the Lynbrook-based water company filed a request with the New York State Public Service Commission to raise its rates by $9.56 million, customers - especially those living in Malverne who are still unsatisfied with their water quality - have been looking forward to voicing their opinions.
Now, they will have their day. On Wednesday, the Commission announced that it would hold two public hearings on Dec. 13, one at 3 p.m. and another at 7 p.m., concerning a "joint proposal" that recommends LIAW's rates for April 1, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The hearings will take place at the Nathan L. H. Bennett Pavilion located at 1 Washington Street, Hempstead (next to Hempstead Town Hall).
The joint proposal, an alternative to the rate request filed by LIAW in the spring, was the result of negotiations among the company, staff at the Department of Public Service, the Utility Intervention Unit, the Division of Consumer Protection and the State Department. It calls for each year's rates to be designed to increase the company's annual net revenues by $1.4 million (2.8 percent) in the first year, $1.4 million (2.6 percent) in the second, and $1.2 million (2.2 percent) in the third. The typical residential customer could expect to see their bills increase by 2.5 percent in 2012, 2.6 percent in 2013 and 2.2 percent in 2014 under the proposal.
The Commission is also considering a $0.9 million offset to the company's revenue requirement over the next three years to reflect synergy savings from the proposed acquisition of the New York assets of Aqua New York, Inc., by LIAW's parent, American Water. They are also looking at a possible provision regarding future plant additions that may enable costs to be recovered through the company's System Improvement Charge, as well as a formula for customer sharing of earnings.
president of Long Island American Water, told Patch that "the main driver" of the company's need to raise rates is "capital investment." He explained that since he became president of the company in 2007, which is also when the last rate hike went into effect, LIAW has invested about $54 million in water infrastructure. These capital projects included replacing 16 miles of water mains, new iron removal plants, and other construction to help improve water quality and stay compliant with regulations.
At the time, local villages were joining together to fight the rate hike.
"I've got to continue to invest in infrastructure...no one likes a rate increase, but it's not sustainable [without one]," he added.
LIAW has especially been in 'hot water' with a number of its customers in Malverne and neighboring areas over the past year regarding the quality of their tap water. These homeowners are especially having a hard time stomaching a possible rate hike on top of their "brown water."
Although LIAW has said the brown hue is caused levels in the water, and some residents saw an improvement earlier this year, others say the problem has not gone away.
There are three ways you can express your opinion to the NYS Public Service Commission:
- In Person: The first public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 13, will take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The second will begin at 7 p.m. and adjourn no earlier than 8 p.m., remaining open until everyone wishing to speak has been heard or other reasonable arrangements are made.
- In Writing: You can send an email to Hon. Jaclyn A. Brilling, Secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a written letter to Secretary Brilling at Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350. Your comment should refer to "Case 11-W-0200 – Long Island Water - Rates.
- Via Phone: You can call the Commission's toll-free hotline: 1-800-335-2120.
All comments must be received by the Secretary no later than February 15, 2012. Stay with Patch for more developments.
Tell Us: Will you be attending one of the hearings or using other means to voice your opinion? What do you plan to say to the Commission?