How do you feel about a near-doubling of your water bill?
Strong feelings either way? Then save the date of Dec. 12.
This is your chance to tell state officials what you think of the proposal put forward by the Milford Water Company. The state Department of Public Utilities will hold a public hearing, at Milford Town Hall, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
The hearing is the first step in a lengthy process to determine whether the rate increase sought by the water utility company should be approved.
In a filing made with the state DPU in October, the Milford Water Co. is seeking an 83 percent rate increase, for residential, commercial, industrial and town customers.
Milford officials are planning to challenge the rate request. Special town meeting voters recently approved a request for $20,000 to bolster the legal services account, including to pay for expert witnesses.
According to an exhibit in the Water Company filing, the "typical" quarterly bills for residential customers would increase from $77.31 to $141.79. The utility reported it has 32,000 homes on 5/8'' pipes, the largest share of the customer base.
The company, in its filing, argues that the rate increase is necessary to cover the cost in constructing a new water treatment plant, which is scheduled to be operating in 2013.
"Based on a review of the company's revenues, expenses and investment in rate base as of the test-year period July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, coupled with the [Milford Water Company's] ongoing efforts related to the construction of a new water treatment facility, the company has determined that its rate levels are not sufficient to provide the company with a reasonable opportunity to recover the costs incurred to provide water service to customers," wrote the utility's attorney, Jon Bonsall.
The rate increase, if approved, would result in an increase in revenue for the company of $3.8 million a year.
To construct the new water plant, the company obtained a $20 million private loan, with approval from state regulators. At that time, the town challenged the size of the loan, noting that it would impact customers through what was then thought to be a request for a 50 percent rate increase.