REMARKS OF SEEMA M. SINGH, ESQ.
In the Matter of the Application of Pinelands
April 21, 2004
On December 30, 2003, the Company filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (“Board” or “BPU”) seeking approval for an increase in rates for water and wastewater service. Rates are proposed to become effective on February 1, 2004.
Pinelands Water Company
The proposed water rate increase will increase both the
fixed rate (which varies by meter size) and consumption charge. Under
the Company’s proposal, both charges will experience a system average
increase of 19.8%. For example, for a 5/8" meter, the quarterly
service charge will increase from $17.13 to $20.52, or 19.8%. The consumption
charge will increase from $1.4215 to $1.7030 per thousand gallons, or
19.8%. Therefore, a residential customer using 20,000 gallons per quarter
will experience an increase from $45.56 to $54.58, an increase of approximately
$9.00, or 19.8%, .
The current case has been initiated by Pinelands Water to recover what it claims are expense increases, including those in the cost of power, chemicals, maintenance, security, corporate governance, taxes, insurance, and labor and employee benefits. In addition, Pinelands Water asserts that the additional revenue requested will enable it to continue its capital improvement program in order to maintain safe, adequate and proper service. Pinelands Water also requests this rate increase to permit a reasonable return on its investment in the utility plant as well as maintain a satisfactory credit rating and preserve its financial integrity.
Pinelands Wastewater Company
The current case has been initiated by Pinelands Wastewater to recover what it claims are expense increases, including those in the cost of power, chemicals, maintenance, security, corporate governance, taxes, insurance, and labor and employee benefits. In addition, Pinelands Wastewater asserts that the additional revenue requested will enable it to continue its capital improvement program in order to maintain safe, adequate and proper service. Pinelands Wastewater also requests this rate increase to permit a reasonable return on its investment in the utility plant as well as maintain a satisfactory credit rating and preserve its financial integrity.
The Ratepayer Advocate is conducting a complete and thorough investigation
of the Company’s request for a rate increase in order to evaluate
whether and to what extent an increase in rates is proper at this time.
We have requested and received detailed information from the Company about
the purported need for the rate increase. We have already begun that review
by issuing questions to Pinelands Water and Pinelands Wastewater seeking
to discover detailed information regarding the proposed rate and tariff
changes and requesting that the Company justify its expenses and provide
evidence to support its calculations.
We are in the process of analyzing the data received. Our consultants will offer testimony regarding various portions of this proposal to increase your rates. We can state at this time that we have concerns regarding the requested increase. We are focusing especially on these critical issues:
• Whether or not the Company’s request is consistent with the law and the Board of Public Utilities policies and regulations;
• Whether or not the Company’s proposal will allow the utility to provide safe, adequate and proper service at the lowest possible price;
• Whether or not the Company will be treating all of its customers consistently and fairly.
The purpose of this public hearing this evening is for you, the customer,
to voice your opinion, relate your experiences and offer comments about
Pinelands Water and Pinelands Wastewater 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 Administrative Law Judge
and Board make their 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. The Administrative Law Judge will instruct you to give
your name and address before you speak. Please also be sure you put your
name and address on the sign in sheets in the back of the room. 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 public hearing.
ratepayer advocate: home
& info. | press
releases | case
matters | publications
info. | links