General information about the proposed rate increase has appeared in the June 2008 Utility Newsletter and in the October and December 2008 issues of the Weston "FOCUS" newsletter. A telephonic public hearing was held at the Village Municipal Center on January 14, 2009. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approved an overall 7% increase for the water utility on January 23, 2009. The PSC's rate order includes changes to the utility's operating rules and a two-tiered rate structure with separate schedules for residential and nonresidential customers. This is the first overall rate change for the utility since 1988.
The significant changes are the following:
Residential Customers - Residents will fall under an inclining block rate (conservation rate) whereby higher rates will be charged as consumption increases. Currently all customers, regardless of customer classification, are billed under the same rate schedule. The greatest impacts of the rate increase will be to residential customers using over 30,000 gallons per quarter. The goal of implementing this rate structure is to reduce the summer peak usage, reducing the pressure to expand supply sources and reduce energy consumption.
Nonresidential Customers - Nonresidents, including master-metered multifamily buildings serving three or more units through a single meter, will remain on a declining block rate structure similar to that which is currently in place. Nonresidential customers with over 1,000,000 gallons of consumption in a quarter will see the most significant changes in rates as the cost per 1,000 gallons will increase to $1.03 from $0.75. The PSC's cost of service study determined that the previous rates did not adequately cover the utility's costs at the previous rate.
Private Fire Protection - Rates will reduce for all sizes of private fire mains. However, the rate for charges will be based on the connection size at the main, not a reduced size in the building. The credit for a metered service tap off a fire service will also be eliminated. This method follows recommended PSC practice.
Standby Water Service Charge - Also known as vacant lot charges, these are eliminated.
The current water rate schedules will remain in effect through the quarter ending in March 2009 (the village reads meters between the eighth and 18th of each month). After the March meter reading date all charges for water service will be billed according to the new rate schedules. Since the village bills approximately one-third of its customers each quarter, those customers receiving a utility bill for service from mid-January through mid-April 2009, will have their water charges prorated at a ratio of two-thirds old rates and one-third new rates. The one-third of customers receiving a utility bill for service from mid-February through mid-May 2009, will have water charges prorated at a ratio of one-third old rates and two-thirds new rates. The remaining one-third of customers receiving a utility bill for service from mid-March through mid-June 2009, will be the first to see their water charges at 100% of the new rates. All full quarter utility bills after June 18, 2009, will have water charges reflecting 100% of the new rates.
The village will be contacting customers whose bills will be most affected - residential customers with quarterly consumption in excess of 30,000 gallons and nonresidential customers using over 1,000,000 gallons - as to their expected billing changes. The village will also be adding information to its website regarding water conservation and other water related topics.