I’M OPPOSING AQUA INDIANA’S RATE HIKE. YOU CAN TOO! by State Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne)
Aqua Indiana, the private utility providing sewer and water services to Aboite Township residents, recently filed a rate increase request with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). I oppose this request and wish to explain my reasons.
Approximately eighteen months ago, the IURC granted an unprecedented 75 percent sewer and water rate increase to Aqua Indiana. This was a reduction from Aqua’s original request for a 100 percent increase, but it was still far in excess of any rate increase ever experienced by Aqua’s customers and may well have been one of the largest percentage rate increases ever granted to an Indiana utility.
In fairness, Aqua purchased a poorly run utility with significantly greater problems than it realized and the company had invested heavily to fix many glitches that had long troubled and frustrated its Aboite customers. However, the generous rate increases granted by the IURC should have made Aqua whole and then some.
Aqua now seeks an additional 16.64 percent increase for water service, together with an 18.48 percent increase for sewer. Customers are outraged and understandably so.
Aqua attempts to justify this latest demand by claiming it has recently modernized its water treatment facility. I, too, am a customer of the utility and I can attest from personal experience that the results of this alleged modernization are minimal at best. Aqua is also asking its customers to foot the bill for a multi-million dollar payout it made in settling a long-standing lawsuit with an Aboite neighborhood.
In my opinion, Aqua’s customers should not have to pay for the utility’s legal errors nor should the minimal improvements made to their water quality be treated as anything other than a routine expenditure that can and should be paid back over time with the returns enjoyed from the prior rate increase.
Lastly, this rate request comes at a terrible moment in time for Aqua customers. The tough economy is making it difficult for many families to keep their financial ships afloat. To be asked to pay even more money for sewer and water services, especially so soon after the massive recent increases, is inexcusable.
I encourage all customers of Aqua Indiana to join me in opposing this utility’s excessive and inappropriate demand to increase its rates once again. You can do so by writing to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) before August 24, and letting them know how you feel. Their address is OUCC, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204. They can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne) is President Pro Tem of the Indiana Senate. He serves District 16, which includes portions of Fort Wayne.
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