Advocacy Group, West Virginia American Water Clash on Rate-Cost Study
A study released last week by a national non-profit found that the utility rates of West Virginia American Water’s Charleston and Huntington Districts are tied as the 11th and 12th as the most expensive rates out of the 500 largest water systems in the country. West Virginia American Water contested the results of the study based on the methodology used.
The study, conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, compared the rates of the 500 largest water systems, public and private, and found that large, for-profit privately owned systems charge, on average, 58 percent more than large, publicly owned systems.
According to a news release from the Charleston-area group Advocates for a Safe Water System, West Virginia American Water’s requested 28 percent rate increase, if approved, would make the Charleston and Huntington districts the most expensive in the country.
Under current rates, West Virginia American Water residential customers using 60,000 gallons of water per year are charged $711.
Advocates for a Safe Water System says if the proposed rate increase is approved by the state Public Service Commission that will increase to $921 per year, making West Virginia American Water the most expensive of the nation’s large water systems.
West Virginia American Water strongly disputed the comparison method used in the report, saying it "ignores important facts and lacks essential context." A company representative said in an emailed statement that American Water's rates reflect the full cost of providing service, whereas other utilities' rates include subsidies.
The company also disputes the report's finding about how much water its customers use, saying an average yearly bill would be $495, not $711.