Commission denies surcharge, allows some conservation programs
State regulators have denied a request by United Water Idaho Inc. to initiate a 0.33 percent surcharge to pay for seven water conservation programs. However, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission did approve four of the programs, allowing the Boise area water company to defer their expenses for possible recovery from customers at a later date.
At the conclusion of United Water’s 2004-05 rate case, the commission directed the company to update its 1993 conservation plan. After evaluating 91 potential water conservation measures, the company proposed to implement seven programs, adding about $120,000 to the existing $124,000 conservation budget. To pay for the additional $120,000 in program costs, United Water proposed a 0.33 percent surcharge, which would increase an average residential customer bill by about $1.20 per year.
However, the commission said some of the proposed new programs, while expanding educational and recognition efforts, would not produce tangible conservation of water. “The updated plan filed by United Water does not make a compelling case for increasing the budget to educate the public generally about water conservation measures,” the commission said.
The commission did approve four programs, at an estimated annual cost of $108,000, aimed at directly reducing water consumption. Those programs include:
n Vouchers for customers who purchase a sensor that shuts off water for irrigation when it rains.
n Vouchers for customers who buy hose timers and trigger shut-off valves.
n Free installation of 1.6 gallon-per-minute spray nozzles for the rinse-and-clean operations in restaurants and other commercial kitchens.
n A xeriscape garden demonstration project.
The commission said United Water could track the expenses for the programs for possible recovery from customers after the commission reviews and audits the programs. The company will be required to show that the deferred costs are above amounts already included in base rates.
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 UWI-W-06-05.