Our recent rate settlement proposal submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) on September 30th strikes a balance between the needs of our most vulnerable customers and the improvements we need to make to our water and sewer systems.
The proposal prioritizes our lower income customers by expanding customer assistance programs to help make bills as affordable as possible for those that need it most.
This is the right thing to do. During these challenging times, customer protections and the affordability of our rates cannot be ignored. No one should have to choose between paying their water bill and other essential expenses. While the PUC is still reviewing our settlement, this is what customers can expect to see on their bill in early 2021 if it is approved.
The settlement includes a 5.7% increase in base rates for water and wastewater charges, and 5% distribution system improvement charges (DSIC) for both water and sewer. This equals a $6.85 increase for the average residential customer using 3,000 gallons of water per month. Additionally, customers enrolled in our income-based Bill Discount Program using up to 5,000 gallons of water per month would see a reduction in their total monthly bill compared to existing rates.
The proposal also includes enhancements to existing customer assistance programs. The discount available through the Bill Discount Program would increase from 75% on fixed charges to 100% and our very low-income customers could receive a 20% reduction on water usage. Additionally, more customers would be protected from water shutoffs during the winter by increasing eligibility to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. Under our expanded customer assistance outreach program, we hope to increase enrollment in our programs and help customers reduce their bills.
The rate increase, which would go into effect on or after January 14th with approval from the PUC, would result in an additional $14,150,000 in water revenue and an additional $4,850,000 in wastewater revenue. This additional funding would go towards improving our drinking water treatment and distribution system, rebuilding aging sewer lines, and designing innovative stormwater mitigation projects. In addition to large construction projects, this increase will allow for the routine replacement of water mains throughout Pittsburgh and to continue replacing lead services lines.
We have learned from the past that we cannot put off investing in our water systems. To provide customers with an uninterrupted water supply and to deliver the safest water possible, we must move forward with this investment.
This rate settlement is a thoughtful compromise between investing in our aging infrastructure while also addressing affordability concerns for our lower income customers. As a publicly owned and managed water and sewer authority, every dollar we receive from ratepayers is reinvested back into our infrastructure and the improvements we are making to provide high quality, reliable water and wastewater services.
If your family is having a difficult time staying current with your water bill, please contact us as soon as possible. Our suspension of water shutoffs will continue into 2021. If you are not able to pay your bill, your balance will continue to accrue. By contacting us now, you can enroll in a payment plan and begin making payments that fit your budget. For more information about our Customer Assistance Programs, please visit www.pgh2o.com/CAP. To enroll, please contact Dollar Energy Fund by calling, (866) 762-2348.
“This rate settlement is a thoughtful compromise between investing in our aging infrastructure while also addressing affordability concerns for our lower income customers.”