Fairfield Hosts Hearing On Aquarion Water Rate Changes Tuesday

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Water rates for Aquarion Water Co. customers in Fairfield County could rise by 18.3 percent this fall if the state approves the proposed rate change. Photo Credit: Jenn Durfey via Flickr

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield County residents will have a chance to speak out about a proposed 18 percent rate hike in their water service Tuesday evening.

Aquarion Water Co. has applied to the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority for a rate increase for all of its coverage areas in the state. PURA will hold the first of four public hearings on the issue in Fairfield on Tuesday starting at 6:30 p.m. The hearing is currently the only one scheduled in Fairfield County.

The actual rate increase will vary by area and by type of customer. For example, Aquarion has requested that rates in southern Fairfield County go up by 18.3 percent for residential users. That would be a yearly increase of $96 per year for the average household, according to Aquarion’s application.

The proposal would also raise rates by 18.4 percent for public and commercial users and 9 percent for fire departments in the same area. The increase would be 17.1 percent over all 47 towns covered by Aquarion, effective in late August. The company has also asked for follow-up increases of 1.8 percent in 2014 and 1.9 percent in 2015.

“These increases are excessive and come at a time when municipalities and residential customers can least afford them,” state Sen. John McKinney (R-Fairfield) said in a press release Monday. “To propose such a steep and sudden increase in the first year of this plan, tells me there really wasn’t much planning going on at all.”

Aquarion says in its application that it needs to raise rates to offset the cost of its work to maintain its infrastructure. It also points to a drop in customer usage, which lowers its overall revenue.

“This rate application is necessary to meet the needs and requirements of a modern, reliable water infrastructure system, consistent with ever increasing health and environmental regulatory standards,” Aquarion CEO Charles Firlotte wrote in his letter to PURA.

Aquarion Water Co. of Connecticut provides water to 47 towns in the state, including Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford, Weston, Westport and parts of Danbury, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Wilton. By state law, PURA would needs to approve all of Aquarion’s rate changes.

Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said he has reached out to his counterparts in the other 46 towns covered by Aquarion to argue against the rate hike.
“I am hoping that a collaborative effort will help to mitigate the final rate increases,” Tetreau said in a press release.

The hearing will take place June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Sullivan Independence Hall, 725 Old Post Road, Fairfield. Other sessions are scheduled for June 24 in Mystic, June 25 in Torrington and July 8 in Simsbury. Customers who cannot make any of the hearings can send comments to PURA at Ten Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051 or via email to PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov.

Aquarion’s full application and all comments filed with PURA so far are available on the state website here.

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