Come out to the Real Solutions Rendezvous
A guest blog from Advocates for a Safe Water System
March 8: REAL SOLUTION Rendezvous
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Starlings, 1599 Washington St. E., Charleston, WV
West Virginia American Water is not accountable to our communities. Even after hearing from hundreds of customers about high bills, broken mains, and foul water, the company and its captured regulators at the PSC paid little attention. The PSC did what they usually do, giving the water company about a third of what they asked for, only this time it was half: a 15.1% rate increase.
With West Virginia American Water’s last seven rate hikes paving the way, today we are now #4 in the highest water rates among large systems in the county. #4! Meanwhile, West Virginia American Water continues to let our infrastructure fall apart and refuses to be accountable to our community.
So here’s the plan! On Tuesday March 8, join us at Starlings for a REAL SOLUTIONS Rendezvous!
Now that the rate case is over, it’s time to turn our public officials’ attention to the real solution to our water woes: a locally owned, public water system. We need a water system that’s accountable to ratepayers. Join us for an evening meet up and help get 50 LETTERS FOR A PUBLIC WATER SYSTEM out to our public officials. We’ll have drinks, snacks and music too! This is a time to rally.
We know of so many examples of well-run, affordable public water systems across this country. And we know that, when run with resident oversight, as more than 87% of major water systems are, we’ll have more say in making our system an affordable, safe one.
March 8: REAL SOLUTION Rendezvous
7:00 -8:30 p.m.
Starlings, 1599 Washington St. E., Charleston
Bring a friend!
More Details on that 15.1% Rate Hike
The Public Service Commission’s order granting a 15.1% rate increase is 125 pages long, but it is more notable for what is not in it than what is. The order goes into great detail on economic issues like the water company’s tax expenses, wages and benefits, and rate of return. These clearly matter, but what you will not find in the order is any discussion of the details of West Virginia American Water’s actual investments in our water system and whether those investment priorities are in the best interests of ratepayers. Nowhere in the order does the PSC address, for example, whether it is reasonable for a company with a 400-year main replacement schedule to spend more money on meter replacement than main replacement over the next five years.
The PSC instead seems perfectly happy to trust West Virginia American Water to spend our money in the best interests of ratepayers, without any further oversight from the Commission. However, we know that West Virginia American Water will continue to spend our money in the best interests of its shareholders.
The PSC was dismissive of the public outrage sparked by this case, describing it as “unfortunate” that the water company’s request for a rate increase came at a time when the water company is “the subject of intense scrutiny” as a result of the 2014 water crisis. The PSC would clearly prefer to go back to the good ol’ days when the general public kept its nose out of the PSC’s highly technical process.
We’re deeply disappointed by the PSC’s decision – but we are not terribly surprised. This decision emphasizes all the more the need for fundamental change to create a water system that is actually accountable to our community.