Morning View Water granted rate increase
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission today approved a 24.6 percent rate increase for the approximate 100 households served by the Morning View Water Company near Rigby. The company had asked for 35 percent.
However, the commission also imposed a moratorium on new connections until the company can secure sufficient water rights to serve its existing customers and additional growth.
The order also includes a stern directive to the company to begin complying with commission orders, which it has not done in the past. “As we indicated in 2002 (the year of the company’s last rate case), failure to file required reports is unacceptable and will no longer be overlooked,” the commission said.
Morning View is currently serving about 97 customers, but has water rights for only 54. The company reports it is working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources to acquire additional water.
In August, the state Department of Environmental Quality, responding to customer complaints about water pressure, said the company was not meeting the regulatory minimum pressure of 40 pounds per square inch. The company’s system tests at about 22 to 32 psi. The state’s enforcement action will include a Notice of Violation followed by a Consent Order that will include a time schedule to bring the water system back into compliance. The company has installed a backup pump at a cost of $5,000 and those costs have been included in this rate case for recovery from customers.
As part of the company’s 2002 rate case, the commission ordered Mountain View to submit an implementation plan for meter installation. The company did not prepare a plan and the system remains unmetered. The commission is now requiring the company to submit an implementation plan for meter installation, including time and estimated costs, within 30 days.
The new rates allow the company to continue to collect a $5 per month surcharge to fund a contingency reserve for extraordinary and unforeseen major repairs and replacements. The company began collecting the surcharge in 2003, but has not filed any report or accounting of the funds until staff conducted an audit this year as part of the rate case. Staff found that the company did maintain good records of the accounts and used its funds for needed repairs through May 2006. But after that date, the company did not deposit the surcharge funds even though it continued to collect about $5,335. “Beginning in 2006, contingency fund monies appear to have been used for unauthorized expenses,” the commission staff report said. The commission said the company did not intentionally misuse the reserve funds, but did use them for other company operating expenses. “We expect the company to replace monies not spent on authorized expenditures,” the commission said. “We expect further adherence to the recordkeeping and reporting requirements and direct commission staff to more closely monitor the same.”
The new rates effective Sept. 1 are $27.41 per month for quarter-acre lots (up from $22); $35.94 for half-acre lots (up from $28.85) and $44.48 for acre lots (up from $35.75).
A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, are available on the commission’s Web site. Click on “File Room” and then on “Water Cases” and scroll down Case Number MNV-W-06-01.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than Sept 20. 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.