By Liz Beavers

Tribune Managing Editor

PIEDMONT - The Public Service Commission hearing on the proposed water rate hike for Piedmont has been moved to Charleston due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

The hearing, originally scheduled for July 23 at the Piedmont Legion, will now be held that same day at 1:30 p.m. in the Howard M. Cunningham Hearing Room at the PSC building in Charleston.

According to the notice of the change in venue issued by the PSC, the hearing will be live streamed on the PSC website for those who cannot travel to Charleston.

Should any of those persons wish to make public comment during the hearing, a teleconference call will be made available. Written comments may also be mailed to Executive Secretary, P.O. Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323.

The hearing is in response to a petition that was filed by a resident of Piedmont in protest of the proposed 56.75% rate hike passed by the Piedmont City Council Jan. 14.

The City of Piedmont filed a motion to dismiss that petition, claiming many of the people who had signed the document were not eligible to do so.

In a hearing held March 17 at the Piedmont American Legion, however, Administrative Law Judge Keith George of the PSC determined the petition had just enough valid signatures to be considered by the PSC.

In the meantime, the PSC granted Piedmont an interim rate increase of 28.56% to provide the town with some emergency relief for the current deficit in the water budget.

Depending upon what the PSC finds after hearing from both sides during the July 23 hearing, that rate increase could remain, the originally proposed 56.75% could be approved, or any amount which the state agency deems appropriate.

Should the rate set by the PSC wind up being lower than the current interim rate, that money is refundable.