PSC approves lower water rate for Piedmont
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
PIEDMONT - After almost seven months of back-and-forth between the Town of Piedmont and the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the PSC has determined Piedmont water customers will receive a rate increase, but it will be much less than originally passed by the Piedmont Council.
When the council approved a rate increase of 56.75% on Jan. 14, a number or residents immediately signed a petition opposing the increase. That petition was sent to the PSC, setting off an investigation by the state agency.
A public hearing was held in March in Piedmont to determine the validity of the petition, and administrative law judge Keith George of the PSC ruled that the document did indeed have enough valid signatures.
A date was set for the main hearing, which was delayed and then scheduled in Charleston due to COVID-19 concerns.
Kaitlyn Shamblin, a utilities analyst, investigated the case and submitted her report to the PSC on July 10.
According to Shamblin, the 56.75% increase would have generated an increase in revenue of $96,297. The rate recommended by PSC staff, however, at 34.89%, would generate an increase of $57,072, which she said would be sufficient to cover Piedmont’s operating cash requirements of $134,937, in addition to debt service requirements of $66,620, and a required reserve of $16,100, which the PSC directed Piedmont to establish.
Based on her data, Piedmont residents will be paying $18.68 per thousand gallons of water usage for the first 2,000 used, and $7.92 per thousand for every gallon over 2,000.
Minimum charges will be based on the size meter and will range from $37.36 for a five-eighths-inch meter to $2,988.90 for an eight-inch meter.
Initial connection charge will be $350, while a reconnection charge for those who have fallen into arrears but pay their bill off in full will be $35.
The new rates will take effect on Sept. 25.