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Cooper: No water rate hikes without public hearings

Posted July 2, 2014

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

— State Attorney General Roy Cooper on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal to a provision by the state Utilities Commission allowing North Carolina's largest private water utility to raise rates without public hearings.

“Consumers deserve quality water at a fair price, and they deserve a chance to weigh in when a utility wants a rate hike,” Cooper said in a statement. “The Utilities Commission should have all information before making a decision to raise rates.”

The appeal contends that the commission did not make appropriate findings or conclusions in granting Aqua the power to raise rates automatically.

Under state law, rate hikes by regulated utilities usually require approval from the commission, a process that includes public hearings.

Aqua provides water and wastewater service to more than 250,000 people in 52 counties.

In a statement, Aqua said a “water and wastewater infrastructure improvement charge” is needed to improve infrastructure and water quality issues resulting from natural minerals in groundwater sources across the state.

“It works to the benefit of customers and utilities and generates very few complaints,” the utility said.

Cooper said he plans to file a full appeal with the state Supreme Court within the next few months.

8 Comments

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  • miseem Jul 3, 2014

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    You mean during the severe drought a few years ago? When Falls Lake was 8 feet below normal levels? I can't imagine why they would have initiated conservation measures then. Must be a commie plot.

  • mvenable Jul 3, 2014

    Aqua loves to raise rates. I'm glad they're appealing this but wonder who got paid off to put this into law in the first place. Water shouldn't be privatized in the first place and Aqua is the perfect example of why. I pay around $90/month for water/sewer. $66 of that is a flat rate sewer charge. It's absurd.

  • SaveEnergyMan Jul 3, 2014

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    No it won't because those decisions are made by elected people. If you have a beef with the rates express them with your representative on the city council.

    Rate hikes are sometimes necessary and the NCUC was created to protect consumers from unreasonable profit taking - not from having to pay from needed improvements.

    The cost of making water is mostly labor - since the water is essentially free and pumping/chemicals are cheap. It's the people to read meters, maintain lines, and operate facilities that costs. When usage goes down, the cost to provide water doesn't. That's why rates go up when usage goes down.

    The right way is to say charge $50 monthly fixed fee and $1-2 per kgallon for usage. That doesn't deter people from using lots of water and wasting it. Thus the dilemma.

    Not a fan of Aqua, but I do have some experience in this area.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Jul 3, 2014

    Once again Cooper proving why he'll never be Governor.

    No rate hikes period Roy.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jul 3, 2014

    Guess this won't effect Durham City rate hikes scheduled in 2014 and 2015 after the one in 2013... thanks roy

  • yankee1 Jul 3, 2014

    Hmm! Cooper must be running for something. Last I remember Durham and Raleigh, both run by Democrats set up the water police to control water usage a couple years back. As with every other liberal idea, the unintended consequences appeared. Usage went down and so did revenue. OOPS! Politicians can never accept lower revenue. What did they do? They raised the rates. Nothing from anyone when Government does it !

  • Chip Dipson Jul 3, 2014
    user avatar

    Republican lawmakers in the pocket of Big H2O

  • PowderedToastMan Jul 2, 2014

    Water rates are already ridiculous.