UPDATE FOR STONEY CREEK AQUA CUSTOMERS:
Hank Gibb and Bruce Henderson attended the April 24th State Corporation Commission (SCC) Hearing in Richmond dealing with Aqua’s proposed rate increase. Attached is the rebuttal and the Wintergreen case presented to the SCC on the Community’s behalf. This was well received.
Although the final approval by the Commission is still several months away, we think we can report good news to the Aqua community here at Wintergreen.
Below is what we “believe” will be in the final ruling:
- There will be no increases in water and sewer rates– in fact any increases we have paid due to interim rates will be refunded with interest. This will probably occur sometime after May
- The 3000-gallon monthly allowance remains in place
- The proposed infrastructure charge (WWISC) appears to have been eliminated, but this is not a certainty. Aqua is pushing hard for this and we know that the Commission staff is not endorsing it, but discussion at the hearing did seem to keep this matter on the table. For clarity, this is a charge Aqua wants to place on monthly bills that allows them to charge customers for recovery of costs related to expenditures for equipment and system upgrades and replacement. We argued against this indicating it needed more study and should be a charge related to the specific needs of the individual water and sewer subsidiaries versus a blanket state-wide charge. Since Aqua Wintergreen is in good shape this would limit the impact on us
- The current sewer adjustment for water usage measured by portable water irrigation meters at the hose bib may be eliminated. In other words, customers will be charged for all water used as if it went into sewer system. This would impact only Aqua Wintergreen customers who are on both water and sewer and use a lot of water for gardening, lawns, etc. Related to the other issues this is a relatively small issue.
- In the future, Aqua Wintergreen could be consolidated into Aqua Virginia and be included in future state-wide rate applications by Aqua. This is something Aqua will be pushing for and we should be prepared to argue against.
Our success in pushing back against Aqua’s rates increase request was driven by three factors; (A) the support of our community with about 450 protests– WE THANK YOU ALL- (B) the unified opposition of six (6) counties in the Aqua service areas and the State Consumer’s Affairs office and (C) the acceptance of our community’s research and the case presented.
When we find out the final decision of the SCC on Aqua’s proposal and its impact on Wintergreen Aqua customers we will let everyone know.
However, we must be vigilant– Aqua will again and we believe in the near term- petition the SCC for another rate increase. If it is not “just and reasonable” we have to be prepared to push back against it.
With this said, this volunteer effort has become more than two people can handle. As a result, there needs to be something more formal to address these issues. This might take the shape of a joint effort between WPOA, the Valley Association and volunteers, hopefully some with legal credentials. We will be discussing this with the two organizations in the coming weeks. Again, thanks to all for your continued support.
Hank and Bruce