• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

Area Info

San Tan Valley Area Information

8 minutes reading time (1556 words)

Letter to the Editor: EPCOR wants to raise the rates you pay for water and wastewater services

EPCOR wants to raise the rates you pay for water and wastewater services.

Tell the regulators you don't want that to happen.

Stop complaining and do something.
Be a patriot. Be a responsible citizen. Participate in the decision-making process of your government.
Let the decision makers hear your thoughts. Make your voice heard. It is easy.

Tell your elected officials that you already pay too much and that you oppose EPCOR's proposed rate increases of 8.27% for water and 28.11% for wastewater service, and that based upon RUCO's sound analysis, you support RUCO's arguments for a rate decrease of -13.2% for water service, and a rate increase of only .3% for wastewater service, and that you don't want your rates determined by a flawed rate design model that rewards wasteful spending.

To File a public comment online:
https://efiling.azcc.gov/online-services/utilities-public-comment-external
Enter this number on the form to identify the Docket # WS-02987A-20-0025

To Call in to speak your comment live at the hearing:
On Wednesday October 13, 2021, 10:00 AM telephonic public comment shall be taken at the beginning of the first day of the hearing, with public commentors calling 1 (866) 705-2554 and entering the code 241497# to participate.
Phone lines will be open 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the hearing 1 (866) 705-2554 Passcode to Speak 241497# (To Listen Only, Use Passcode 2414978#)

To Watch the hearing live online:
https://azcc.gov/live
Look for: Hearing - WS-02987A-20-0025 - Johnson Utilities L.L.C. WS-01303A-20-0025 - Epcor Water Arizona Inc. (Telephonic Hearing and Public Comment)
October 13, 2021 - 10:00 AM

Background
For 20 years citizen ratepayers suffered horrible service, equipment, and facilities that failed to promote the safety, health, comfort, and convenience of the public because of the failed management practices of Johnson Utilities (JU). (See Decision #76785) (Docket # WS-02987A-18-0050).

After hundreds of citizen ratepayer complaints to numerous government officials including the ACC, as an emergency measure, EPCOR was appointed as interim manager of JU by the ACC.

Then, to finally get rid of JU's ownership and management, the ACC authorized EPCOR to significantly OVERPAY for a FAILED utility, leaving citizen ratepayers to pay the absurd cost for the transaction for years to come, while Johnson walked away with windfall profits, and at the same time escaped over $100 Million in potential consequences for various alleged violations of environmental and corporate financial violations that were pending by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) (see here, and here) and the Arizona Corporation Commission. (see here, and here) (Docket # WS-02987A-20-0298).

Now, EPCOR wants to raise the rates we pay for water and wastewater service.

The ACC must step up and prevent further economic exploitation of the citizen ratepayers, that are captives of the EPCOR water utility monopoly. The ACC should REJECT EPCOR's unsubstantiated proposed rate increases, and instead apply the sound reasoning outlined by RUCO to protect the citizen ratepayers from further economic exploitation.

RUCO has identified numerous problematic costs that EPCOR uses to justify its unsubstantiated request for a rate increase of 8.28% for water service, and a rate increase of 28.11% for wastewater service, for an average usage consumer. RUCO argues that the ACC should decrease the water service rate by 13.2%, and only raise wastewater rates by .03%.

The Staff at the Arizona Corporation Commission basically supports most of EPCOR's rate increases, and changes to how rates are calculated. However, the elected Commissioners make the final decision. Let them hear your voice.

A few more details…

EPCOR's Position

  • For the water district, the present monthly bill for a 1% inch metered customer using an average of 5,685 gallons is $27.05. The proposed monthly bill for a 3/4-inch metered residential customer using an average of 5,685 gallons is $29.28, an increase of $2.24 or 8.27% over the present bill.3
  • For the wastewater district, the present monthly bill for a residential wastewater customer is $39.24. The proposed monthly bill for a 3/4-inch metered residential customer is $46.26, an increase of $10. 15, or 28.11% over the present bill4
3 Increase shown does not include proposed rate case expense surcharge of $0.35 for water district.
4 Increase shown does not include proposed rate case expense surcharge of $0. 18 for wastewater district.
(Updated Application, Page 3 ¶,6-7; https://docket.images.azcc.gov/E000011972.pdf?i=1633828013367)


ACC's Staff Position
San Tan Water District:
  • The Company's proposed rates would increase the typical 3/4-inch meter residential bill with median usage of4,500 gallons from $24.50 to $26.35, an increase of $1.85 or 7.56 percent. Staff's recommended rates would increase the typical 3/4-inch meter residential bill with median usage of4,500 gallons from $24.50 to $24.80, an increase of $0.30 or 1.23 percent.
  • The Company proposes a uniform three-tier rate structure for 3/4-inch metered residential customers, with breakover points of 4,000 and 10,000 gallons. Staff finds that it is reasonable for the Commission to approve the Company's proposed uniform three-tier rate structure for 3/4-inch metered residential customers.

San Tan Wastewater District:
  • The Company's proposed rates would increase the typical residential bill from $39.24 to $50.27, an increase of $11.03 or 28.11 percent.
  • Staffs recommended rates would increase the typical residential bill from $39.24 to $50.17, an increase of $l0.93 or 27.85 percent. Staff recommends approval of its recommended rates and charges for both San Tan Water and San Tan Wastewater.
(Rate Design Direct Testimony of Tanya Pitre Public Utilities Analyst Utilities Division Arizona Corporation Commission, Executive Summary, ¶2-5; https://docket.images.azcc.gov/E000015411.pdf?i=1633625598218)

RUCO's Position
  • RUCO is recommending a 13.2% decrease for the Water District, each service class should receive a 13.2% decrease in rates. 
(Rate Design Testimony of Frank W. Radigan on behalf of the Residential Utility Consumer Office, Executive Summary, Page i, ¶1; https://docket.images.azcc.gov/E000015398.pdf?i=1633625598218)

  • For the Wastewater District RUCO recommends that its rate increase be limited to $5,659, or 0.03%. 

(Surrebuttal Testimony of Frank W. Radigan, Executive Summary, Page i, ¶1; https://docket.images.azcc.gov/E000016078.pdf?i=1633828013367)


Rate Design changes that can cost ratepayers more
  • EPCOR is proposing a change to the way rates are calculated so that they essentially take all their costs for providing water and wastewater services, and then add a profit margin on top of that.
  • EPCOR built their rate case requests for increases on a Cost of Service Study (COSS), that the Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) found to be laden with numerous excessive expenses, many of which are residual legacy artifacts from the notoriously, problematic predecessor company, Johnson Utilities.
  • RUCO's Expert Witness, Frank W. Radigan stated "The Company provided no reasoning for its proposal. RUCO sees no basis for making any changes to the existing rate design if they are not based on sound cost of service study results" 
(RUCO Pre-Filed Testimony, Rate Design Testimony of Frank W. Radigan, Docketed August 30, 2021, Executive Summary, ¶2; http://docket.images.azcc.gov/E000015398.pdf?i=1633625598218)

By the way, who is RUCO?
"The Residential Utility Consumer Office ("RUCO") was established by the Arizona Legislature in 1983 to represent the interests of residential utility ratepayers in rate-related proceedings involving public service corporations before the Arizona Corporation Commission ("ACC" or "Commission")."

RUCO's job is to look out for the interests of citizen ratepayers.

What is the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC)?

"The Commissioners have the ultimate responsibility for final decisions on granting or denying rate adjustments, enforcing safety and public service requirements, and approving securities matters."
"Article 15 of the Arizona Constitution establishes the Arizona Corporation Commission. Only 7 states have constitutionally formed Commissions. Arizona is one of only 13 states with elected Commissioners. In the 37 other states, Commissioners are appointed by either the governor or the legislature."

"In most states, the Commission is known as the Public Service Commission or the Public Utility Commission. Our Commission, however, has responsibilities that go beyond traditional public utilities regulation. These additional roles include facilitating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation and railroad/pipeline safety."

"By virtue of the Arizona Constitution, the Commissioners function in an Executive capacity, they adopt rules and regulations thereby functioning in a Legislative capacity, and they also act in a judicial capacity sitting as a tribunal and making decisions in contested matters." 

Tell your elected officials that you already pay too much and that you oppose EPCOR's proposed rate increases of 8.27% for water and 28.11% for wastewater service, and that based upon RUCO's sound analysis, you support RUCO's arguments for a rate decrease of -13.2% for water service, and a rate increase of only .3% for wastewater service, and that you don't want your rates determined by a flawed rate design model that rewards wasteful spending.

To File a public comment online:

To Call in to speak your comment live at the hearing:

On Wednesday October 13, 2021, 10:00 AM telephonic public comment shall be taken at the beginning of the first day of the hearing, with public commentors calling 1 (866) 705-2554 and entering the code 241497# to participate. 

Phone lines will be open 15 minutes prior to the commencement of the hearing 1 (866) 705-2554
Passcode to Speak 241497# (To Listen Only, Use Passcode 2414978#)

To Watch the hearing live online:

https://azcc.gov/live

Look for: Hearing - WS-02987A-20-0025 - Johnson Utilities L.L.C. WS-01303A-20-0025
Epcor Water Arizona Inc. (Telephonic Hearing and Public Comment)October 13, 2021 - 10:00 AM


Written and submitted by local San Tan Valley resident John Dantico

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