Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. UWI-W-11-02, Order No. 32333
August 19, 2011
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
Commission begins processing United Water rate case
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission suspended for up to six months an application made Aug. 3 by United Water Idaho to increase customer rates by an average 20 percent. United Water serves about 84,000 customers in Boise and the surrounding area.
The six-month suspension will allow time for the commission’s staff of auditors, engineers and attorneys to thoroughly review United Water’s application.
If approved in full, average residential bills would increase by $5.82, according to United Water.
The commission has set an intervention deadline of Sept. 1 for parties seeking “intervenor” status. Parties, typically representing large customers or groups of customers, intervene to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, participate in settlement conferences and make and argue motions. To date the only intervenor is the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho, which represents primarily customers on low- and fixed-incomes. As the case develops, members of the general public, who do not have intervenor status, will have the opportunity to submit written comments for the case record and participate in public workshops and testify at hearings to be scheduled later.
United Water seeks to increase its annual revenue by $7.6 million. The company claims it has invested more than $20 million since its last rate case. Improvements include a new supply treatment facility, a 600,000-gallon water storage tank, 1.7 miles of new 24-inch water main and replaced water mains, service lines and meters. The company is also investing $5.5 million in a new customer information system. Water consumption has declined significantly, resulting in lower revenues, United Water states. The reduction in annual revenue makes up roughly 38 percent of the company’s overall rate request.
The commission cannot, by state law, refuse to consider utility rate increase requests without first considering the evidence presented by the utility, intervening parties and customers. The burden of proof is on the utility to justify the expenses it seeks to recover as 1) necessary to serve customers and 2) prudently incurred. The commission may accept, reject or modify the company’s request. Commission decisions can be appealed to the state Supreme Court by the utility, intervenors or customers.
Customers can track the case on the commission’s Web site where the company’s application, including testimony from company officials and customer comments are posted. As the case progresses, testimony from commission staff and intervenors will be added. The Web site is www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on the water icon, then on “Open Water Cases,” and scroll down to Case No. UWI-W-11-02.