Water rate increases approved for Aquarion



A final decision on a large rate increase requested by Aquarion Water Company has been reached by the state Department of Public Utilities Control (DPUC).Citing a great need to upgrade an old and failing infrastructure and increases in operating expenses, what was formerly Bridgeport Hydraulic Company asked for rate hikes that would bring in $31.95 million in capital funding.

The DPUC split the difference between the recognized need and economic impacts to consumers. It approved about 60 percent of the request, or $19.3 million. What that means to typical residential water customers in Litchfield County is a quarterly bill increase of $14.53, or about 15 percent.

The rate increase becomes effective only after capital improvements are made and put into service.

The decision came after months of hearings around the state. Commissioners weighed the facts, including the 10 years since the last rate increase and a stated $129.5 million in needed infrastructure improvements.

As if to emphasize what Aquarion called a system of pipes and pumping stations in peril, regular news reports this winter have told of roads flooded in various parts of the state by water main breaks.

In a press release, DPUC Vice Chairman John W. Betkoski stated, "This department in not insensitive to utility rate increases. However, it has been a decade since the company's last rate increase and in that time it has spent many millions of dollars to improve an aging infrastructure system to meet the needs of the 21st century, which the department deems prudent. Both logic and state law require that the company be compensated for this investment as it is the ratepayer that will benefit as time unfolds."

The DPUC valued Aquarion's rate base at more than $458 million. The decision puts the company's return on equity at 10 percent.






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