A water and sewer service provider is seeking an 80 percent rate increase, according to the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff. The office said on Wednesday that Carolina Water Service, Inc. is seeking approval to raise rates for its full-service water customers from an average of $36 a month to more than $65.
In South Carolina, Carolina Water Service, Inc. has customers in Aiken, Beaufort, Georgetown, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, Williamsburg and York Counties.
Steve Lubertozzi, spokesman for Carolina Water Service’s parent company Utilities, Inc. said the company is still using rates set five years ago, and that its operating costs have gone up a lot since then.
These rates reflect operating expenses incurred during the twelve months ending September 2005, which is approximately five and a half years ago. And since that time operating expenses have increased.
Lubertozzi said the company also has to pay off upgrades on its facilities completed since the current rates were set in 2005.
Carolina Water Service has invested more than $10 million since the last rate case for wastewater treatment plant upgrades, improvement to water treatment facilities and infrastructure replacement. Current rates are not sufficient to cover our operating costs to provide the utility with a fair rate of return on the investment.
The commission will set a hearing which will probably be held earlier this summer. Regulatory Staff Executive Director Dukes Scott is encouraging customers to get involved in the hearings that will determine the new rates.
Customers will have an opportunity to come tell the commission what this sort of rate increase, what effect it will have on them. And that’s very important. Sometimes people think, “Well, that’s not going to help.” It does help and it does have an impact. The commission weighs that information very carefully.
Scott says the notice of filing will indicate how customers can participate and the commission will set a hearing.
There will be a notice of filing and the commission will issue that and then instruct the company to probably publish an insert in newspapers as well as put it in a bill insert for customers. That will be the official notice.
Lubertozzi said the Public Services Commission would decide on the new rates in the next six months.
The commission said it will set a hearing, which will most likely be held earlier this summer.