Commission adopts Falls Water increases
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission is allowing Falls Water Company an increase of 14.39 percent in the annual revenue it needs to keep up with increasing costs of maintenance and operations and to replace aging infrastructure.
Falls Water, with about 2,900 connections, serves a population of about 9,350 in Bonneville County, northeast of Idaho Falls. The increases by customer class, effective April 1, is as follows:
n Residential customers with meters (2,225 customers), the increase in annual water bills is about 5.6 percent.
n Residential customers without meters who pay a flat rate (585 customers): 15.26 percent.
n Commercial customers with meters (41 customers): 11.12 percent.
n Multi-family residential customers (57): 2.62 percent.
Falls Water originally sought to increase its revenue requirement by $258,364 or 48.2 percent. The company then reduced its request to $86,720. The commission’s approved revenue requirement is $81,576. The commission approved an overall rate of return of 6.3 percent.
The commission said it recognized that the increase from some homeowners would be difficult. “While this commission is not insensitive to the economic circumstances of customers, we note that we also have an obligation to Falls Water to set rates at a level sufficient to recover its costs of production and service.”
Falls Water sought to reduce the amount of water made available to customers at the monthly minimum charge before assessing an additional commodity charge. Under the former rate, metered customers paid a flat fee of $11.50 per month and then were assessed 41 cents for every 1,000 gallons used beyond 20,000 gallons. Falls Water proposed assessing 48 cents for every 1,000 gallons used beyond 8,000 gallons per month. The commission approved the commodity charge of 48 cents for use beyond 12,000 gallons and a monthly minimum of $11.53. For non-metered residential customers the monthly flat fee increases form $17.50 to $20.17.
Commissioners expressed continuing concern about excessive water use, leakage or both, particularly in the company’s un-metered service area including Mobile Home Estates Subdivision, Monte Vista Estates and First Street Mobile Park. The commission urged the company to have meters installed within three years, rather than by the company’s proposed six years. Falls Water claims it is not financially able to complete the project in three years without a proposed three-year 96-cent surcharge on customer bills. The commission said it could not approve the surcharge without opportunity for customers to comment and encouraged the company to file a surcharge application.
The commission also noted that Falls Water failed to provide its customers information about water conservation and wise water use as was directed after the company’s 2003 rate case. Today’s order directs the company to provide brochures or fact sheets on these topics and mail them to customers prior to the summer irrigation months.
The commission approved the company’s proposal to assess a $15 collection fee for customers who fail to respond to termination notices and do not pay until a service technician is at the home ready to terminate service.
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Water Cases” and scroll down to Case No. FLS-W-05-01.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than May 18. Petitions for reconsideration must set forth specifically why the petitioner contends that the order is unreasonable, unlawful or erroneous. Petitions should include a statement of the nature and quantity of evidence the petitioner will offer if reconsideration is granted.
Petitions can be delivered to the commission at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID, 83720-0074, or faxed to 208-334-3762.