The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) sought ways to hold down customers’ water and wastewater rates today in a workshop with representatives of utility companies. Rising costs have forced rates up for many of the utilities in recent years, particularly those that own small systems.
Many of Florida’s privately-owned water and wastewater systems serve a small area, or even a single subdivision, and don’t benefit from the efficiencies of large municipal systems. Some also need to replace or upgrade pipes, pumps, and treatment equipment, driving up costs even more. These costs ultimately are paid by customers.
“Because government, not the free market, controls what utilities can charge, state statutes and case law require us to allow them to recover their costs plus a fair rate of return on their investment,” explained PSC Chairman Art Graham. “Small systems can be so expensive to operate that in many of our rate cases customers already are paying very high rates, yet the company isn’t making the normal rate of return. We want to suggest ways to narrow that gap, so rates don’t go up as much.”
Utilities from across the state attended the PSC’s informal workshop to explore solutions for the many financial and environmental challenges facing small, privately-owned water and wastewater systems. Promising ideas for holding down costs will be reviewed further at a water and wastewater industry workshop at the PSC’s Tallahassee headquarters in November.
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