Make us your home page
Instagram

New Aqua Utilities rate hike could lower fees in Pasco

Aqua Utilities customers already pay some of the highest water and wastewater rates in Pasco County. Now the utility says it may need to hike the rates — again.

The private utility, which serves Zephyr Shores in east Pasco and Palm Terrace and Jasmine Lakes near Port Richey, told state regulators last month that it will seek "rate relief" for its systems in 18 counties, including Pasco.

A lawyer for Aqua says in a June 15 letter that the company needs the additional revenue to help pay for $8.4 million in capital improvements plus help cover a 16 percent drop in consumption since the Public Service Commission granted Aqua a rate hike last year.

"With the company's current consumption and sales forecasts, and the costs it must incur to provide safe and reliable water and wastewater services, the company return on equity will fall to a negative return without the requested rate relief," lawyer Bruce May wrote to the commission last month. "Faced with these dire conditions, the company has no choice but to seek timely rate relief."

Aqua officials say they're still crunching the numbers and don't know yet what kind of rate increases they'll be seeking. They expect to submit those figures by September.

Whatever they may be would come on top of the eye-popping hikes that went into effect in April 2009.

Those increases sent the typical water and sewer bill for a Palm Terrace customer to $118 from $65 and for a Zephyr Shores customer to $118 from $91. A Jasmine Lakes customer who uses about 5,000 gallons a month saw his monthly bill increase to $93 from $50, according to figures provided by the Public Service Commission.

But Jack Lihvarcik, president of the Pennsylvania-based utility's Florida division, said Tuesday that Aqua's latest request could result in a rate decrease for customers in Pasco. He said that's because Aqua wants to make its 40,000 statewide customers pay the same rates. In the last rate case, the Public Service Commission grouped the systems into four levels, each with a different rate.

The Pasco systems are grouped with the smallest operations, which would owe less if the costs are spread out among all the systems, he said.

"It'll level (out) everything," he said. "The impact to the smaller systems would be a lot less."

When it made its last rate request in 2008, Aqua asked for hikes that were worth $8.4 million for its 80-plus systems throughout the state. The Public Service Commission approved rates expected to make a little more than $6 million.

Aqua officials say that consumption plunged by nearly 16 percent from the commission's original calculations. The utility attributes that drop to the recent installation of private irrigation wells; one system in Lake County alone had nearly 140 wells.

The result, the company says, is that water volume sales aren't producing enough revenue to cover its costs.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

New Aqua Utilities rate hike could lower fees in Pasco 07/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  2. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  4. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    The name, that is. But its replacement — Tampa Bay Next — includes several of the same projects once proposed for TBX, such as the express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as a place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]