MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Reynolds Disposal Company has filed a rate hike request with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). Notices went out on Tuesday. Many sewer customers are reading them today and are probably shocked at the amount.
Some western Pennsylvania customers think the idea of paying more for their sewer service stinks.
“We don’t need bills to be raised. We need things to be dropped lower to help us get out of this recession,” said customer Scott Penzerro.
Penzerro just lost his job and has moved into a new home.
He’s one of the roughly 700 customers covered by Reynolds, which needs the money to fix two aging underground lines, including one that is 20 feet underground and carries most of the system’s flow.
“Unfortunately, you have to maintain the infrastructure. We’re at a point where we have some critical improvements that need to be made,” said Reynolds executive director Brad Gosser.
Reynolds also wants to add automated meters, saving many hours on collecting usage amounts. The cost for those three projects is $380,000.
So, the average residential bill would go from $98 every quarter to over $146.
“There’s no justification. To replace a couple pipes is not 45%. If they want to raise 10-12% that’d be OK, 45% is a huge number,” Penzerro said.
A consultant picked the number for Reynolds, but the hike would apply to residential, commercial and industrial customers.
Reynolds is a private company, but it must get increases approved just like municipalities and public companies.
“By spacing it out, it’s beneficial. I know it’s a bigger hit at once, which no one likes to see, but if we went every couple years, it’d be bigger increases overall,” Gosser said.
The PUC has not yet taken any action on the request and will most likely not do so for at least nine months. Under the PUC’s process for reviewing utility rate requests, the next step would be for them to formally suspend the request for an investigation, which can last up to nine months. Click here to keep track of the case’s progress.
If there’s any good news, it’s that Reynolds has never had a full rate request approved, so it will likely be a smaller amount.
Customers’ opinions about the rate change can be heard online, along with more information on the rate-making process. Just visit the PUC’s website.