OF SEEMA M. SINGH, ESQ.
the Matter of the Petition of Aqua New Jersey Inc for Approval to Acquire
the Assets of Berkeley Water Company and Other Required Approvals
Good afternoon, my
name is Susan McClure. I am an attorney representing the New Jersey Division
of the Ratepayer Advocate. The Division of the Ratepayer Advocate (“Ratepayer
Advocate”) represents the interests of all utility customers, including
residential, small business, commercial and industrial ratepayers. The
Ratepayer Advocate is a party in every case where New Jersey utilities
seek changes in their rates or services. The Ratepayer Advocate also gives
customers a voice in setting long-range energy, water and telecommunications
policy that will affect utility services well into the twenty-first century.
Aqua is a regulated
public utility organized and operating under the laws of the State of
New Jersey and providing water service to approximately 42,300 customers
in 16 municipalities in Warren, Hunterdon, Mercer, Burlington, Monmouth,
Camden Gloucester Counties, New Jersey. Aqua is a wholly owned subsidiary
of Aqua America, Inc. Aqua America, Inc. is the nations largest U.S. based
publicly traded water utility, providing water and wastewater services
to approximately 2.5 million residents in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio,
Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Maine, Missouri,
New York and South Carolina.
The Company asserts that the proposed transaction will have no adverse impact on existing Berkeley rates or employees. Aqua will operate Berkeley under its existing tariffs and rate structures until such time as the Company files a Petition with the BPU to revise its tariffs and rate structure. The Company asserts that the proposed acquisition will also not have an adverse impact on the provision of safe, adequate and proper utility service in fulfillment of its obligations under New Jersey law.
Our office represents the public in changes of control cases. As necessary, we work with a team of accountants and lawyers to analyze these cases. We are currently conducting a complete and thorough investigation of this Petition to evaluate whether and to what extent this acquisition will be of a benefit to the ratepayers of both Aqua and Berkeley. To that purpose, we have requested and are currently reviewing detailed information from Aqua about the acquisition.
In our investigation of this case, the Ratepayer Advocate has focused on the following issues:
The purpose of this public hearing tonight is for you, the customer, to voice your opinion, relate your experiences and offer your concerns. Berkeley’s customers may offer comments about Berkeley’s rates and any service problems you may be experiencing. It is important that you express your views, as they become part of the record on which the Board of Public Utilities makes its decisions. The Ratepayer Advocate also wants to hear your views. We strongly encourage your participation, which will help us evaluate the Company’s proposal and prepare for the hearings.
This hearing is being transcribed and your comments will become part of the record. Mr. Quirolo of the Board of Public Utilities, the hearing officer here today, will instruct you to give your name and address before you speak. I would like to reiterate the importance of this so that there will be a clear record of your concerns and interests.
On behalf of the Ratepayer Advocate, I would like to thank you for attending this hearing.
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