Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. MUR-W-10-01
December 20, 2010
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
Commission declines to reconsider Murray Water decision
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has denied a petition to reconsider its decision in a Murray, Idaho, water company rate case.
Nearly all of the 36 customers of Murray Water Works Systems asked that the commission postpone and/or reverse its Nov. 2 order increasing rates until Murray Water complies with “all federal, state and county laws, regulations, orders and licenses pertaining to public utilities.”
The commission denied the petition, stating that its previous order addresses customer concerns. “We find it prudent to allow Murray a reasonable opportunity to comply with our directives,” the commission said. “In the interim, commission staff will continually monitor Murray’s quality of service and verify whether Murray complies with the commission’s mandates. As always, customers are permitted to participate in the verification process and submit specific concerns and complaints …” the commission stated.
Customers want Murray Water owner Arlen Lish to comply with Idaho Department of Environmental Quality regulations, particularly one that states water companies must hire a certified waster system operator. The commission’s November order directed Murray Water to hire a system operator at a cost of $400 per month. “If Mr. Lish is unwilling or otherwise unable to become a certified system operator, then the commission orders the company to seek out and employ another individual to comply with IDEQ’s certification requirement …” the commission stated.
Customer complaints regarding Murray Water’s substandard business and recordkeeping practices “are well-founded” and were addressed in the November order, the commission said. In that order, the commission directed Murray Water to issue billing statements and termination notifications that comply with commission rules. Full-time customers must be billed on a monthly basis while part-time customers can be billed annually, the commission said. The company had not been sending notice to customers until the accounts are more than 60 days past due.
In its November order, the commission approved an increase in the monthly fee for full-time customers from $26 to $51.50. Rates for part-time customers (eight months or less) increase from $26 to $34.50, while monthly rates for business customers increase from $26 to $70.
The commission denied requests from Murray Water that individual meters be installed to detect leaks and that it be allowed to install a back-up power system and fire hydrants. The commissions said all those items would add significant expense requiring an even greater increase.
This was the company’s first rate case since 2003.
A full text of the commission’s order denying reconsideration as well as the original order establishing rates are available on the commission website at www.puc.idaho.gov . Click on “File Room” and then on “Water Cases” and scroll down to Case Number MUR-W-10-01.