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PSC delays wastewater price jump

Aloha Utilities is asking the Public Service Commission to approve a 57 percent increase in the wastewater rate.

By BETH GLENN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2000


The Florida Public Service Commission this week put on hold a wastewater rate increase requested by Aloha Utilities.

That means the state agency will ask Aloha to produce more documentation justifying the need for the rate increase, and customers will get to speak out on the issue.

In the meantime, the commission also rebuffed Aloha's request to charge its customers higher interim rates while the case was being heard. Had the PSC not ruled, the requested 57 percent increase would have gone into effect June 3.

"Suspending the rate request is pretty routine," said Jack Shreve of the Public Counsel's office, which represents customers' interests before the commission. "At this point we haven't had any hearings or any investigations. This really allows a case to continue."

Residential customers using 10,000 gallons of wastewater or more could have seen their bills rise from $32.19 to $50.53 per month for sewer bills under the new rate.

Public hearings on the rate case are scheduled Sept. 25 and 26. Aloha's attorney, Marshall Deterding, was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

"They're going to have to file more information," Shreve explained. "We'll be doing a lot of discovery representing the customer. There will probably be depositions, testimony filed on both sides, and commissioners will sit and hear public testimony and any intervenors in the case."

One of the most vocal of those intervenors has been state Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who issued a statement on the ruling Wednesday.

"I'm very happy the commission is not taking Aloha's application at face value," he said in the statement. "I oppose this attempt by Aloha to increase its rates and will do all that I can to make that opposition known to the commission."

-- Staff writer Beth Glenn can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is glenn@sptimes.com.

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