Three Public Hearings in October Offer Ratepayers Opportunity to Provide Testimony
AARP Connecticut urges the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to deny the proposal by Aquarion Water Company – the public water supply company for approximately 207,000 customers representing about 685,000 people in 56 Connecticut municipalities – to implement a rate increase that will raise the cost of water for Connecticut ratepayers by nearly 25% over three years. The complete testimony submitted to PURA by AARP Connecticut is below.
In addition, AARP Connecticut encourages potentially impacted residents to exercise their power by providing comments during any of the three public hearings in October:
- Thursday, Oct. 6, at 5:30 p.m.: Virtually via https://ctdeep.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIocuurpjgtHtbCjCnSFInEZLTVlz3tdTgS
- Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 5:30 p.m.: Stratford Library, Lovell Room, 2203 Main St., Stratford, CT 06615
- Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7:00 p.m.: Virtually via https://ctdeep.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkdO6rrDMvG92NDAf7EywU3W7at1SGMZ_O
The testimony AARP Connecticut submitted to PURA follows:
Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut Rate Case (Docket No. 22-07-01)
On behalf of our nearly 600,000 members in Connecticut, many of whom live in Aquarion’s service territory, AARP hereby respectfully submits comments in the above-captioned proceeding conducted by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (“Authority” or “PURA”) regarding Docket No. 22-07-01.
Aquarion’s proposed rate increase would make water, which is an essential service, unaffordable for many older adults. The proposed 3 year time frame to increase rates gives the company additional leeway to continually raise rates. Aquarion is asking for 13.9% increase now, along with proposed increases of 6% in 2024 and 3.7% in 2025. That amounts to a near 25% increase within 3 years, which we find exorbitant.
AARP requests that PURA deny Aquarion’s proposed rate increase based on the following:
- The proposed 25% increase would harm customers when they are already facing soaring energy costs as well as high inflation on almost all consumer goods, harming the state’s most vulnerable households.
- The impact would be felt throughout many Connecticut communities. Aquarion serves approximately 207,000 customers (representing a population of approximately 685,000), in 56 municipalities in 7 of the state’s 8 counties.
- Making water unaffordable while many older adults are already struggling to pay for every day essentials is unconscionable.
- Staggering the rate hike over several years does not make the 25% increase just and reasonable.
AARP supports a new additional low-income assistance program. However, simply adding a new narrowly targeted assistance program does not justify the proposed unreasonable spike in water rates. The proposed program does not undo the significant harm from Aquarion’s proposed rate increase to those with moderate and fixed incomes who do not qualify for assistance programs.
AARP supports prudent investments – such as any necessary maintenance of aging water infrastructure and treatment plans – and urges PURA to examine closely the various investments for which Aquarion now seeks cost recovery.
AARP urges PURA to ensure that the recovery of any prudent investments be distributed fairly across todays and tomorrow’s rate payers because:
- Costs for investments that will last for many years to come should not unfairly burden today’s households.
- Costs should not be front-loaded on today’s ratepayers – PURA should seek to achieve “intergenerational equity.”
Any rate increase that PURA grants should be conditioned upon a demonstration of Aquarion’s good customer service and easy-to-understand bill format. Households should not see rate increases simply because Aquarion has chosen to acquire 19 water systems.
AARP urges PURA to examine Aquarion’s estimate of its merger-related savings in annual operating expenses as well as its representation as to the one-time merger-related transaction costs. Households should benefit from an accurate and fair share of the net merger-related savings.
Finally, AARP questions the proposal for inverted rates. Such a rate scheme could cause bills to soar during periods of high use without the customer’s knowledge. It is also not based on costs. It also discriminates against larger households.
AARP appreciates the opportunity to submit comments and looks forward to providing additional feedback on the docket.
Advocacy Director, AARP Connecticut