The private water utility Aqua North Carolina says it plans to file for its third rate increase in five years. The company notified the state Utilities Commission last week that it will file a formal request in August. It's not yet clear how much Aqua will ask to raise its rates. The company last requested an increase of 19 percent in 2011, and the Utilities Commission approved an increase of about 5 percent.
Consumer advocates argue another rate increase will hurt low-income customers. Aqua NC's water rates are about double those of public utilities in the Triangle. The company's president and COO Tom Roberts says Aqua's infrastructure is more expensive to maintain.
“We typically serve the smaller communities, more spread out, and so we don't have the advantage of a fixed cost of Durham, Raleigh or Cary where they have a fixed geographic footprint and everything within relatively close proximity,” Roberts says.
Roberts says Aqua is seeking the increase to recover $25-30 million dollars in upgrades to its water and sewer systems. Aqua provides water for about 73,000 customers.