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Friday, April 25, 2014

CUC bats for higher late charges and reconnection fees

The days of paying the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. a paltry fine for late payments may be numbered if the Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission approves a CUC request to enforce a new non-rate fee schedule effective next month.

Under CUC’s current non-rate electric fees, customers are assessed a late charge equal to 1 percent of the past due amount. Under the new proposal, CUC wants to increase this to 10 percent of the past due.

The same adjustment is being sought for water and wastewater customers under its non-rate water and wastewater fees schedule.

Other proposals will increase the inspection fee from $30 to $90; the meter test fee from $30 to $75 for single phase and to $110 for three-phase.

A new fee is the investigation fee, amounting to $210.

The petition before CPUC also seeks to lower reconnection at meter for residential from $150 to $60. But for non-residential customers, reconnection at meter will go up from the existing $150 to $200.

For the unauthorized electric connections, the proposed fine is $550.

Other recommended fees include $95 for new service (meter change out fee); new service electric for single phase, $450; and new service electric for three-phase, $800.

These and other schedules for non-rate electric fees will be among the matters the CPUC will take up when it conducts hearings beginning next week.

Besides these new fees, CUC remains firm in its proposal to adjust the electric base rate. Under its amended proposal, from the monthly customer charge of $7.69 for average residential customers, the recommended new base rate is $9.27.

The proposed adjustments for other customer classes are indicated in the rate petition before CPUC.

Water, wastewater fees

According to CUC, it wants to increase the non-rate water and wastewater fees because these fees are currently extra costs to the agency and are not included in the base rate.

Besides the proposed increase in late charge from 1 percent of past due to 10 percent of past due, the following fee schedule is also recommended: increase new tap inspection fee for wastewater from $50 to $125; disconnection fee for wastewater, $40; wastewater tipping fee, $80; backflow device inspection fee, $100; installation inspection fee, $170; biannual inspection fee, $60; remediation fee, $110.

For the non-rate water schedule, the new fees being eyed include: an inspection fee of $90; increasing the investigation fee from $40 to $210; a meter test fee, $95; disconnection fee, $45; and unauthorized water connection, $550; among other proposals.

According to CUC, some customers require excessive services that are then subsidized by other ratepayers. CUC believes that it is fairer for its customers to pay for the services they actually use, so that customers who use less service pay less.

The CPUC is slated to begin its rate hearing on Monday, Dec. 9.

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