ICC awards Illinois American Water another rate hike

ICC awards Illinois American Water another rate hike

SPRINGFIELD — For the third time since 2008, the Illinois American Water Co. has been awarded a rate increase by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

A typical residential customer in the water company's Champaign district who uses 4,500 gallons now will pay about $39.53 a month, according to the company.

Five years ago, when the water company filed the first in the series of water rate increase cases, it said the typical customer used 6,000 gallons and paid $25.28 monthly.

On a per-gallon basis, the latest increase means that rates have more than doubled in five years, from about fourth-tenths of a cent per gallon in September 2007 to nearly nine-tenths of a cent per gallon when the rate increase goes into effect on Oct. 1.

"Our typical customer has changed," said Karen Cotton, a spokeswoman for the water company. "Our typical customer is using less water, and low-flow toilets and sink adapters, so that results in lower usage."

But she insisted that customers are not getting penalized for conserving water.

"That's actually not the case," she said. "It's really important to conserve our precious water resources, but it's also important to realize that we have fixed costs. While we are using conservation efforts, it's important to realize we have the same infrastructure requirements to get the water to your home. You're going to need that same infrastructure every time you turn on the tap, or if you open a hydrant to fight a fire."

The rate increase, approved earlier this week by the ICC, means a Champaign district customer will pay about $2.33 more per month, or $28 a year, according to Illinois American Water.

The Champaign district includes a population of about 142,000 in Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, Tolono, St. Joseph, Pesotum and Bondville.

The company had filed with the ICC for a $38 million rate increase request last October, a figure subsequently reduced to about $35 million. The ICC action should allow the company to earn $17.9 million more a year.

Ongoing enhancement and maintenance of infrastructure to ensure reliable water treatment and delivery systems are the main reasons for the rate change, according to the company. The new rates reflect approximately $180 million in infrastructure investment statewide, and approximately $17.9 million in the Champaign district.

"Upgrades made in the water treatment and delivery systems enhance water quality, service reliability and fire protection for customers," said Ron Smith, senior operations manager in the water company's Champaign district.

Locally, the $17.9 million in investments includes replacing and installing fire hydrants, valves, meters and more than 4 miles of water main. Upgrades were also made at the Mattis Avenue water treatment plant to ensure reliability and enhance water quality. A new booster station was installed to enhance water pressure as well as meet water demands. The booster station uses energy-saving technology through the installation of variable frequency drive motors. The equipment ensures improved motor operational efficiencies when supplying the current pumping demands.

"Water is a critical part of everyday life and a strong economy," said Smith. "We work with communities we serve to make sure we are providing high-quality water service that meets their needs and, at the same time, controlling our costs wherever possible."

Customers needing assistance paying their water bills can access the company's H2O Help to Others program. The Salvation Army administers the program. Customers are urged to contact their local Salvation Army if they need assistance. Information is available at http://www.illinoisamwater.com.


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greystreet1 wrote on September 22, 2012 at 8:09 am

I suppose the next time they want to increase rates they'll tell us that the average household only uses 2000 gallons a month.  That trick will only last so long...

dickson wrote on September 22, 2012 at 9:09 am

1. why not permit use of grey water- in toilet/garden etc - that will provide plumbers with lot of work- why should be using fresh water everywhere

2. when say i use 100 gallons of water, only 80-85G goes back to sewerage- balance goes to my lawn- why the sanitary dept chanrges me for all 100 gallons.

These 2 steps will save lot of money for consumers.

pattsi wrote on September 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Trying to find a positive side to this story--there might be a huge increase in rain barrels. One at the end of every downspout on every house in the community. And an added insentive to the use of rain barrels is that there will be a one time credit against the upcoming annual stormwater fee per site.

The downside is the fact that the fund to help low income households cover these 3 increases rarely has money, rarely has sufficient funds to help households, and has such a high cost threshold before one can apply for help that a household using small amount of water needs to forego paying a bill to reach the threshold. In doing this, the household then incurs a late paying fee. This set up has so many flaws that it would be interesting to find out just how many households receive help and what are the amounts that have been put into the fund?

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on September 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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Get the money while you can boys ... err, I mean Holen Sie sich das Geld, während Sie können Jungen!

It's not conservative or liberal, not Republican or Democrat. There is is no competition in natural monpolies. Monopoly is monopoly, and best administered by the municipality.


It's like the Stone Soup story. These people take our water out of our land and then sell it to us. 

aantulov wrote on September 23, 2012 at 6:09 am

We can only live about three days without water. Therefore its management should come under "public good" not "for profit of few." Take it back.