Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. SPL-W-09-01, Order No. 30938

November 4, 2009

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712


PUC approves changes to Spirit Lake East charges; denies monthly billing


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission granted a petition by Spirit Lake East Water Company to revise its tariff by adding fees for late payments, returned checks and reconnecting service. However, the commission denied the company’s request to begin billing its customers on a monthly, rather than quarterly, basis.


Spirit Lake East Water Company serves about 330 customers in the Spirit Lake area.


The tariff revisions approved include a late-payment charge of 1 percent per month of the unpaid balance; a $20 returned check fee; a reconnection fee of $32 for reconnection within 30 days of disconnection and $52 for reconnection after 30 days. A reconnection made during hours other than normal business hours will be $65.


The commission said the charges are similar to the amounts charged by other utilities.


A change to monthly billing should be made only after all the costs of the conversion are known and measured against the benefits and after the public has had sufficient time to comment, the commission said.


“It may be, as the company asserts, that a change to monthly billing will produce a more consistent revenue stream, send clearer signals to the company’s customers about their water usage, provide better data about water usage or loss, and allow for earlier discovery of leaks on a customer’s side of the meter. These benefits do not come without costs,” the commission said. There will be expenses to change the existing billing system and its software program. In addition, the costs for reading meters and recording all readings would increase. Those costs were not quantified in the company’s application. “The proposal to change to monthly billing is not approved, but will be reserved for a rate case when the additional costs and benefits can be adequately evaluated,” the commission said.


A full text of the commission’s order, along with other documents related to this case, is available on the commission’s Web site at Click on “File Room” and then on “Water Cases” and scroll down to Case Number SPL-W-09-01.


Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than Oct. 20. Petitions for reconsideration must set forth specifically why the petitioner contends that the order is unreasonable, unlawful or erroneous. 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.