Water bills are going up for some Pennsylvania American Water customers

More than 100,000 Pennsylvania American customers in Montgomery, Chester and Bucks counties can expect to see an increase.

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Friday, December 9, 2022
Water bills going up for some Pennsylvania American Water customers
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The company reached a settlement on Thursday and said it is making over $1 billion in water and wastewater system investments through 2023 to continue providing safe and reliable service.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The last thing people want to hear right now is: your water bill is going up. But that is exactly what is happening to thousands of Pennsylvania American Water customers in our area.

The company reached a settlement on Thursday and said it is making over $1 billion in water and wastewater system investments through 2023 to continue providing safe and reliable service.

More than 100,000 Pennsylvania American customers in Montgomery, Chester and Bucks counties can expect to see an increase of about $9 more a month and the roughly 12,000 wastewater customers in the area can expect a roughly $30 a month increase starting on January 23.

In a statement from Pennsylvania American, they said, "On Dec. 8, 2022, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved a joint settlement agreement that was filed in Oct. 2022 by all active parties in the company's 2022 rate case. The company filed its rate request in April 2022, seeking to adjust its rates by approximately $173.2 million for over $1 billion in water and wastewater system investments the company will make through 2023 to continue providing safe and reliable service. The terms of the approved settlement agreement include a total annualized revenue increase of $138 million and expanded customer assistance funding. The agreement also includes certain water main extension projects and an accelerated lead service line replacement program to more than double the annual replacement rate."

They added "From 2022 through 2023, Pennsylvania American Water will have invested approximately $1.13 billion to improve service reliability, water quality and fire protection for more than 400 communities across the Commonwealth. These investments help ensure the continued safety and reliability of our water and wastewater systems, promote public health, and support the economy."

Dr. Subodha Kumar, from Temple University's Fox School of Business, said "in the short-term, it will look bad for the consumers but in the long run it is in the benefit of everybody. Pennsylvania is one of the states where the water supply pipelines are much older. Wherever we have these old pipelines, it has to be done. It is a long overdue thing."

But that doesn't mean customers don't feel the pain, especially during this economic time. Philadelphia residents are not impacted by this rate hike but in the Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington metro area, about 22% of people said they couldn't pay an energy bill at least once in the last year, with 5% saying they can't almost every month. And about 28% say they've had to reduce or forgo basic needs in the last year, while 7% have to almost every month.

Many people across the area are having a hard time with their utilities. ECA, Energy Coordinating Agency, says the demand is high for people who need financial assistance right now.

"We have definitely seen an uptick in folks contacting us to see if they can get some help," said Steve Luxton, executive director of the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA).

"A lot of times people go under the assumption that they are not eligible for programs, and that is not necessarily true," said BJ McDuffie, program manager of the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA).

But they say there is a growing number of people who are not eligible, and that is the bigger problem.

"They are largely underemployed and working retail low-paying jobs but they are working, and trying to pay their bills and the struggle for them is probably more dire than somebody who is at less than 200% federal poverty level because they are probably receiving assistance." -Steve Luxton, Executive Director, Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA)

If you need assistance, you can reach out to ECA or your county assistance office. For Pennsylvania American customers, they say they have low-income discount programs available.