CT Residents Against Proposed Water Rate Hikes
Friday, November 11, 2022
Some Connecticut residents may be looking at higher water utility prices over the next three years. The state's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is considering a rate increase over three years from water company Aquarion.
The first-year price hike, of 13.9%, is the highest. It would be followed by a 6% increase in 2024 and another 3.7% in 2025. This could lead to increases of up to 27% for Connecticut residents.
AARP Connecticut is among the groups voicing concerns, with a petition of 2,400 names opposed to the increase. The group's senior advocacy director, John Erlingheueser, said higher bills present challenges for people age 50 and older with limited incomes.
"They're going to be hit with higher utility costs come January for electricity and natural gas," he said. "And when you start adding on water and then, as I said, all the other costs having to do with the daily life - you know, food, medicine - people are going to be put in that position of, 'Do I not take medicine, or do I pay my utility bills like water and heat?'"
Aquarion has said it's been nine years since it's had a rate increase.
AARP isn't alone in opposing it. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., has said it's "the last thing" households need. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority said it is unable to comment on a pending case. Hearings on the request begin Nov. 22.
Prior to the petition, Erlingheuser said, AARP submitted testimony to PURA from several Connecticut residents about the rate hike.
"Older folks, people we represent, are usually on fixed incomes, and their incomes don't grow anywhere near as much as the cost of living," he said. "Utilities are something that's not factored into, frankly, the cost of living for Social Security and pensions."
State Attorney General William Tong has also said his office will "vigorously review" the rate hike request. A final decision from PURA is expected by next March.
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