HARRISBURG –The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today conducted a binding poll on the issues related to the $773,210 rate increase request by Columbia Water Co., Lancaster County.
The binding poll is designed to provide a mechanism for the Commission to publically discuss the issues in complex cases where there are questions to be addressed by the Commission and where parties have intervened in the proceeding. Commissioners base their findings on the record developed in the proceeding, the recommended decision from the presiding Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the briefs and exceptions filed by the parties in the case.
In this case, the ALJ issued a recommended decision on Nov. 22, 2013, and parties filed exceptions to that decision as well as reply exceptions. All of the documents in the case are available on the Commission’s website. More information on the ratemaking process also is available.
The positions of the Commissioners presented during the poll are binding. Commission staff will prepare a Final Order based on the results of the poll. The action of the Commission does not become effective until a Final Order is entered by the Commission. A video of the meeting including the binding poll is available online.
The Commission voted 5-0 on a motion by Chairman Robert F. Powelson to adjust the income tax calculation in the ALJ’s recommended decision to correct a mistake by the company that resulted in a double count.
The Commission also voted 4-1 to approve a motion by Chairman Powelson establishing a rate of return on common equity (ROE) at 9.75 percent.
Chairman Powelson issued a statement encouraging the company to monitor its capital structure and to make adjustments to it as appropriate.
On June 13, 2013, the Commission suspended the company’s $773,210 request for investigation. Under the company’s proposal, the total annual bill for a typical metered residential customer using 48,000 gallons of water a year would increase a total of $77.64, from $367.92 to $445.56 (21.1 percent). Because the positions of the Commissioners presented during the binding poll affect the customer bills, the bill impact still must be calculated.
Columbia Water Co. provides water service to approximately 8,700 customers within Columbia and Mountville Boroughs and West Hempfield, Manor, and Donegal Townships in Lancaster County.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
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Docket No. R-2013-2360798