Commission approves rates for Stoneridge Water customers
Rates for customers of the Stoneridge Water Company near Blanchard in Bonner County will increase effective July 2. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a minimum monthly customer charge significantly less than the company requested but a consumption charge slightly higher than the company requested, in part to encourage water conservation within the Rathrdum Prairie Aquifer.
Stoneridge Water serves about 374 households but will ultimately have 1,207 households when including planned developments in its service territory. Stoneridge is primarily a resort area with 100 single-family residential customers, 12 condominium units, 150 timeshare units, three recreation centers, a golf course and 37 developed motor coach units. It recently interconnected with a subdivision called Happy Valley Ranchos, about a half-mile way. Happy Valley Ranchos, which includes 101 single-family residential households, requested the interconnection with Stoneridge.
Stoneridge proposed to increase the residential customer charge from $14 per month to $38 and the commodity charge from 30 cents for every thousand gallons used to 67 cents. The commission approved a $24 minimum monthly charge for a standard ¾” residential meter and a commodity charge of 79 cents per 1,000 gallons.
The company sought a rate base (which includes a utility’s physical plant, facilities and equipment plus the amount of cash needed to operate) of $436,000, with the commission granting $103,627. The commission denied a large part of the requested rate base for items that were not capital investment in the water company, but for other entities such as the golf course in the Stoneridge resort development.
Stoneridge sought recovery for $125,000 in annual expenses, with the commission granting $116,073.
The company asked for a rate of return of 11 percent, but the commission granted 12 percent so that Stoneridge will have sufficient revenue to make payments on a $160,457 loan from the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. Further, the commission said the 12 percent rate of return is comparable with that granted other small water companies in recent cases.
The commission’s order also approves a surcharge to allow the company to pay off a second loan from the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund for $278,000. That loan financed the interconnection of the Stoneridge resort system with the Happy Valley Ranchos Subdivision. The surcharge of $16.83 per month for the first five years and then $14.03 per month for years six through 19 applies only to Happy Valley Ranchos customers who requested interconnection to the Stoneridge system.
The commission said it recognizes the surcharge along with the rate increase “results in a substantial increase to the residents of Happy Valley Ranchos. In reviewing the comments of many of the HVR customers, it appears that most are satisfied with the improved quality of their water and service, and that a surcharge for the costs of interconnection, close to the amount authorized by this order, was expected.”
Stoneridge proposed a rate design that included the same monthly customer charge and commodity charge for all customers, including condominium and timeshare owners. Instead of a uniform customer and commodity charge, the commission adopted different rates depending on the size of the meter serving the customer. The commission said the company’s rate design was weighted too heavily upon the residential class and didn’t escalate enough for large users, such as the golf course. Following is the rate design approved by the commission:
Meter Size Monthly Customer Charge
The commodity charge for all meter sizes is 79 cents per 1,000 gallons. The golf course (6-inch meter) commodity charge is 71 cents per 1,000 gallons reflecting a 10 percent discount because its service can be interrupted to benefit other customers in the event of a main well shutdown or other emerencies.
The rate design encourages conservation, the commission said. The aquifer tapped by Stoneridge Water wells is a recharge feeder to the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer. There is significant concern for both water quality and conservation of the aquifer due to growth and increasing use.
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 Number SWS-W-06-01.
Interested parties may petition the commission for reconsideration by no later than July 10. 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.