Aquarion wants rate hike spread over 3 years

Stonington - Customers of Aquarion Water Co. are facing a rate hike of more than 18 percent next year if the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approves the company's request for a rate hike.

Aquarion spokesman Peter Fazekas said Monday the rate hike is needed to offset the $143 million the company has spent since 2010 making infrastructure improvements, some of which came at its Mystic facility.

PURA is holding four public hearings around the state on the proposed rate increase including one on June 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Mystic Middle School.

For the typical residential customer in the Groton-Mystic-Stonington area who uses 6,000 gallons per month, the monthly bill would increase $7.98 or 18.3 percent from the current $43.54 to $51.52. Rates for commercial users such as the hotels and restaurants in Mystic, would increase $18.4 percent.

The company is actually seeking a three-year rate plan which calls for increases of 1.8 and 1.9 percent in the second and third years.

Fazekas said the company last received a general rate increase in 2010 when it was granted an average general rate increase of 11.3 percent over all its divisions. There was no increase in 2011 or 2012.

Fazekas said the company expects a decision by PURA in September or October.

In a letter to the company's residential customers, President and CEO Charles Firlotte wrote that the standards and regulations to provide safe and sufficient water re are increasingly more rigorous and expensive and require the investment of millions of dollars for infrastructure.

"This request for rate relief is to ensure that we are able to continue providing high quality water with excellent, reliable service to all of our customers," he wrote.

Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek, who plans to attend the Mystic public hearing, said Monday he was concerned about the impact the increase would have on businesses in light of the still struggling economy.


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