Tennessee American Water Company (TAWC) customers will have the opportunity to comment on a proposed water rate increase during a Tennessee Regulatory Agency (TRA) hearing in Chattanooga today. The requested rate hike is the sixth requested in the past nine years.
The Consumer Advocate with the Tennessee Attorney General's Office has intervened in the case in which TAWC is seeking to raise its rates by approximately $10.6 million. The public is invited to express their views on the proposed increase from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Chattanooga.
This Office has pre-filed testimony of numerous experts supporting the need for no more than $2.8 million rate increase for Chattanooga area residents based on information available at the time of filing. TAWC, a monopoly, has about 74,500 customers in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. They also have customers in Cleveland and Bradley County.
The Attorney General's Office typically represents consumers' interests in matters involving telecommunications, energy, sewer, and water rate-making and regulation issues that are presented to the TRA for review. The TRA defines its mission as the promotion of the public interest by balancing the interests of utility consumers and providers, while facilitating the transition to a more competitive environment.
"My Office is concerned that the Chattanooga area residents will have higher water rates than other major Tennessee cities if the TRA approves this latest hike TAWC has proposed," Attorney General Bob Cooper said. "We will urge the TRA to reject this proposed rate increase as disproportionate in relation to the company's ability to make a fair profit."
A separate hearing on the merits of the case is scheduled for October 15 and is expected to last most of the week at a location to be determined later.
Over the past nine years, the TRA granted rate increases to the TWAC totaling 32.7 percent for consumers. The last rate increase resulted in new rates effective April 2010. The Attorney General has intervened in each of the five previous cases as have the City of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association.
For more information on this case, please see filings at the TRA website at http://www.state.tn.us/tra/dockets/1200049.htm.