Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) today voted to propose final rates for Aqua Utilities Florida, Inc. (Aqua) that reduces the water and wastewater utility’s requested rate increase from $4.1 million to approximately $2.6 million. If the Commission decision is protested, hearings will be set later this year.
PSC reductions were made in several areas, including plant facilities, accumulated depreciation, return on equity, operations and maintenance, lobbying, and salaries and wages. Conservation conscious consumers will pay less on their water bills because the Commission established a three-tiered inclining block rate structure with usage blocks for monthly consumption of 0 to 6 thousand gallons (kgals), 6.001 to 12 kgals, and all kgals in excess of 12 kgals.
Commissioners found Aqua's service quality to be marginal and directed staff to collaborate with the utility and intervenors in the case to develop criteria for a Phase III ongoing monitoring plan. Due to the company's marginal quality of service, Commissioners reduced the company's return on equity from 9.67 to 9.42 percent. Commissioners agreed that Aqua had made improvements to its service quality under the current Phase II monitoring plan, and the previous docket was closed. When developed, the Phase III monitoring plan will be considered by the Commission at a future Commission Conference.
To address the significant affordability and subsidy concerns Aqua's request presented, the PSC is continuing its "capband" rate methodology. This approach limits the maximum rates the highest-cost customers pay while also limiting the subsidy the lowest-cost customers contribute.
Aqua filed a proposed agency action (PAA) rate increase application with the PSC in September 2010. Last October and November, the Commission held nine customer meetings in Aqua’s service territory and heard from hundreds of customers about the utility’s proposed rate increase and its quality of service. If the Commission’s proposed final order is protested, the PAA decision will be set for hearing.
Aqua provides water and wastewater service to approximately 16,357 water and 6,789 wastewater customers in 17 Florida counties.
Customers who have service quality or billing concerns can call the PSC’s Consumer Assistance toll free number at 800-342-3552. For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.