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September 21, 2019Cart

Politics

by Daily Voice
by DV

State Lawmakers Challenge Rise In Water Rates

Assemblyman Steve Otis
State Sen. Shelley B. Mayer

State lawmakers have called on the state Public Service Commission to reject a steep water rate increase for Suez Water customers in southern Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

Customers affected by the hikes in Westchester include residents and businesses in Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester.

In March, SUEZ Water requested a 20 percent revenue increase in its water service rates effective Feb. 1, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021. The proposed rate increase is coupled with a shift to an "inclining block structure" for water service rates -- where customers pay more for water as their consumption increases.

Bill Madden, a spokesman for Suez Water, said: “The PSC is conducting a highly transparent and comprehensive review process to evaluate our rate filing. We are fully engaged with all stakeholders in this process." 

State Sen. Shelley B. Mayer and Assemblyman Steve Otis wrote an Aug. 26 letter to John B. Rhodes, chairman and CEO of the Public Service Commission, that said in part: “In addition to the negative financial implication for ratepayers, an examination of the available documents demonstrates that Suez Water’s justification for the proposed rate increase require amplified scrutiny, and ultimately do not support such a dramatic additional burden on ratepayers.” 

The newly-proposed rate structure is designed to promote water conservation over the current declining block rate structure, but some have raised concerns about its effects on small businesses. The proposed shift to an inclining rate structure is coupled with a reclassification of its customers to Residential, Multi-Family, or Non-Residential, each with its own water rates.

Sen. Mayer said, “I am glad to stand with the residents of Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester and to ask the PSC to reject SUEZ Water’s proposed rate increase and merger. SUEZ Water’s justification for the proposed increase is insufficient, and they fail to show any savings for ratepayers from the proposed merger. Additionally, the proposed rate increase will have a detrimental impact on families and seniors living on fixed incomes, and small businesses in the community who cannot absorb the substantial additional expense that SUEZ Water seeks to impose on them.”

Assemblyman Otis added, “It is important that this rate application receive greater scrutiny and that customers benefit from efficiencies and savings when merger or reorganizations are proposed. The PSC has the tools to protect ratepayers in their review of rate applications. Our letter raises issues that warrant review.”

To read any comments or letters submitted in the case, go to https://www.dps.ny.gov/, click “Search”, and enter Case #19-W-0168. 

There are no other scheduled public hearings.