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February 16, 2023

Updated: PURA reduces Aquarion's rate hike request, lowering rates for customers

HBJ Photo | Matt Pilon Marissa Gillett, chair of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Thursday issued a draft decision that would reduce the rates charged by Aquarion Water Co., following unanimous opposition from the public to the water company’s request for a rate hike.

Aquarion, based in Bridgeport and owned by Eversource Energy, initially requested revenue that would have increased rates by an average of 27% over three years.

After an extensive review, PURA rejected Aquarion’s request, cutting its annual revenue requirement by $36 million to $197.15 million. That is $379,365 less than the water company’s currently approved revenue requirement.

In an application to PURA, a regulatory agency chaired by Marissa Gillett, Aquarion said its current rates were insufficient and that it needed to increase rates to maintain “a reliable, safe and high-quality water supply” and to cover capital infrastructure investments.

During the hearing process, PURA received 48 comments from public officials, organizations and other entities, all of which opposed the proposed increase.

The top reason commenters opposed the increase was because it was “too high” (60% of complaints).

Among the opponents were Attorney General William Tong, who said Aquarion failed to demonstrate that the new rates were “just and reasonable.”

PURA expects to make a final decision on March 15 at 10 a.m. Parties have until noon on Feb. 24 to file exceptions.

Aquarion, acquired by Eversource in 2017, provides water service, including fire protection service, to about 207,000 customers in 56 municipalities in Connecticut.

Aquarion said the draft decision raises questions and uncertainty about its ability to continue investing in new infrastructure and services.

“While we understand the drive to affordability, it cannot come at the cost of lost investment that will ultimately harm customer interests,” the company said in a statement. “We will engage with PURA in the coming weeks as we look to find the right balance of affordability and access to clean, reliable water supply across our Connecticut systems.”

Aquarion said it has invested more than $740 million in new infrastructure and services since its last rate case in 2013.

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