The state's consumer advocacy agency has rejected an 18 percent rate request by Aqua North Carolina, the state's largest private water utility.
The recommendation by the Public Staff to slash Aqua's rate request sets up a hearing June 9 before the N.C. Utilities Commission.
The Public Staff filed its recommendation this afternoon in a case that has elicited dozens of protest letters from Aqua customers around the state who pleaded with regulators for support in the midst of an economic downturn that has left many unemployed and struggling with household budgets.
Rate cases are usually settled by utilities and the Public Staff, but the company and the consumer agency disagreed so strongly in this case that a compromise was never in sight.
Aqua wanted to raise rates by $7.9 million a year for its 88,000 water and sewer customers in the state. But the Public Staff said the company is entitled to raise rates by a mere $984 a year, a puny 0.002 percent. (See pages 5-6 here.)