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PWSA Wants To Raise Rates, But First Needs State Approval

Kailey Love
90.5 WESA
In April, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission began regulating PWSA. The commission must approve any rate increases.

If a state agency approves new rates proposed by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, residential customers could see their bills increase by 16.7 percent next year, but remain the same in 2020. That would be an increase of $10.61 for a typical household using roughly 3,000 gallons a month. 

That's a smaller increase than the agency once envisioned for 2019 and 2020.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission began oversight of PWSA in April. That change placed new limits on PWSA’s rate-making powers. So the authority is seeking smaller hikes, which it must now justify to the PUC in a rate request, or tariff.

In its proposal, PWSA divides customers into four groups—residential, commercial, industrial and health or educational institutions—with varying rates, said spokesperson Will Pickering.

“Each of these classes place different strains on our system,” he said. “We need to look at how much each of these classes really cost us to serve, and then fold our rates in accordingly.”

If approved, the tariff would generate an additional $27 million annually, money Pickering said the authority will use to invest in the water and wastewater systems.

“We’ve recognized that we need to get in front of these issues and really start renewing the infrastructure,” he said.

PWSA’s board approved the tariff at its regular meeting on Friday, and will submit the plan to the PUC on July 2. The state commission has until March of 2019 to approve or deny the plan.

In January, water and sewer rates for residential customers went up 28 percent.