Chesy water customers could see hike in bills

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Upgrades cited as reason for increase

Almost $30 million in improvements may be passed onto consumers of Ohio American Water if the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio OKs a sought-after rate increase.

On Friday the Marion-based utility filed a preliminary notice of the impending request for the rate hike.

“This is like a 30-day warning so the PUCO can be prepared to receive a large packet of information,” a Ohio American Water spokesperson said.

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In Lawrence County there are approximately 3,300 customers with the majority in the village of Chesapeake and the remainder in Union and Fayette townships.

If approved those customers should expect to see their water bills go up on average of $8.28 a month or 28 cents a daily, according to a company release. There is no monthly increase in the sewer bills. That increase is based on an average monthly household usage of 3,750 gallons.

“It is for what they’ve done already,” the spokesperson said. “Replacing distribution lines primarily such as replacing high capacity pumps. What they are trying to do is recoup costs.”

Right now, the average water bill in Chesapeake is between $40 to $60 a month.

“We charge $5.74 for the first 750 gallons,” Ron Dials, operations superintendent for the Lawrence County district, said.

Each addition unit of 750 gallons cost $5.74 with a minimum monthly charge of $9.51 on top of usage.

That compares with monthly bills in Proctorville of between $25 to $30. Hecla water customers pay about $17 for the first 1,500 gallons of water and $8.50 for the next 1,000 gallons.

“Since the last increase this very small district has spent $198,500 on three main extension replacement,” Dials said.

Those projects were in 2010.

If the rate increase is approved that unit fee would go up to $6.94 a month, Dials said.

The next step is for Ohio American to make a formal request sending backup information justifying the hike.

“Then the PUCO takes control of the schedule,” the spokesperson said.

Following a review of the request, there will be one or more hearings to get public input. The PUCO has 275 days or about 90 months to hold hearings and then make a decision, according to the company spokeperson.