Heating hearing over utility bill increase

COATESVILLE, Pa. - August 24, 2010 An overflow crowd filled the Coatesville City Council Chambers in Chester County Tuesday afternoon. Area residents are upset over a proposed triple digit increase in their sewer rates.

The rate hike is requested by the Pennsylvania American Water Company which provides sewer treatment to Coatesville and 9 surrounding municipalities. The average residential customer's bill would soar from $329 to $1,083 a year.

Pennsylvania American Water has petitioned the State Utility Commission for permission to raise its sewer rates in order to recoup the cost of the $55-million Coatesville area waste water treatment plant which opened last year.

"It's never a good time to ask for a rate increase but this was a necessary investment that we needed to make to comply with environmental standards," said Terry Maenza, Pa. American Water Company.

The company serves 6,000 customers but opponents say they're being asked to foot the bill for future customers in houses not yet built.

"There's an estimated additional 13,000 plus homes that can go on to this system so the cost of the plant should be incurred by both current and future users," said Ron Rambo of the West Brandywine Twp. Municipal Authority.

The PUC will hold several more hearings including one Tuesday night (8/24) at the Rainbow Elementary School in Coatesville which could also be a full house.

The final decision on the controversial rate hike will come in January.

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