Rates for Aquarion Water customers are set to decrease following a decision from the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) this week.
On Wednesday, PURA commissioners voted 2-1 to reject the utility’s proposed rate increase and instead ordered a decrease in rates effective immediately. According to PURA, the decision will lower residential water bills by about $67 per year for Aquarion customers, or about 11%.
The decreases come from an order lowering Aquarion’s annual revenue requirement by nearly $2 million and lowering the return on equity for the company at 8.7%. Aquarion had initially requested an increase in revenue of $37 million and a return on equity (ROE) of 10.35%.
Aquarion’s request to increase rates was originally filed in August of last year and kicked off a 200-day rate case with PURA, which is empowered by the state to regulate certain utility rates in Connecticut. It was the Bridgeport-based company’s first rate case since 2013, according to PURA.
This is the first of two major rate cases that will be decided by the authority in 2023. The other involves United Illuminating and will reportedly affect 341,000 customers across 17 towns in the state. A decision there is expected on August 25th.
Meanwhile, legislators at the state’s capitol in Hartford are attempting to increase PURA’s regulatory authority through Senate Bill 7. The bill, which passed out of committee on Tuesday, would give PURA some additional powers over rate setting and would shift certain costs from ratepayers to shareholders. The bill is now headed to the General Assembly for further debate and an eventual vote.
A 2020 bill, the Take Back Our Grid Act, allowed PURA to shift to a performance-based model of regulation, which would change how utilities are allowed to recoup certain costs. Those performance-based regulations are top of the list of priorities for PURA in 2023.