N.C. Today: Aqua NC rate increase leads to policy change for water utilities
The News & Observer reported that Aqua North Carolina, the state's largest private water utility, won a 5.2% average rate increase for its more than 87,000 customers in 52 North Carolina counties.
The company, a division of Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based Aqua America, had originally requested a 19% increase, but adjusted its proposal with one provision: that it would be allowed to raise rates in the future without public hearings.
The N.C. Utilities Commission granted its request, in the form of a new state policy that allows all water utilities to raise rates to pay for routine maintenance expenses by up to 5% without formal cases that would require a public hearing.
Customers opposed to the rate increase complained about Aqua's water quality, which they claimed at times was too poor for consumption, but apparently that only made Aqua's case stronger: the Commission stated those complaints showed Aqua's need for the rate increase to pay for system upgrades.