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Separate Sanitary Billing Begins January 2013, if PSC Approves American Water Settlement
The General Investigation was instituted by the Commission in June based upon the request of the Sanitary Board filed in March after the Company had announced that it would be discontinuing its billing and collection services for the sewer utilities on or before October 31, 2012.
According to Kit Anderson, Executive Director of the Sanitary Board, West Virginia-American informed the Board by letter at the end of September of last year, that it would no longer perform these services. Since January 1, 2012, the Company has been providing the services on a month-to-month basis, Anderson said.
According to Anderson, if approved by the Commission, the Company has agreed that it will continue to provide billing and collection services for the sewer utilities until December 31, 2012. Starting January 1, 2013, the Sanitary Board will be responsible for its own billing and collection. The parties have also agreed to enter into an agreement for the provision of water usage information. The Sanitary Board and the other sewer utilities bill their customers on the basis of the volume of water purchased by the customers. Under the agreement filed Monday, the water company has agreed to waive eighteen cents ($0.18) of its standard twenty cents ($0.20) charge for such data for a period of twelve months.
The Sanitary Board also will enter into a termination agreement with the water company to turn off water service if future sewer payments are delinquent.
Anderson stated that “the Board’s intention in seeking the General Investigation was to enable the Commission to decide if the action of the Company was reasonable and to limit the cost of the change in service upon customers. The settlement will provide the Board with extra time to purchase computers and software for the Board to do its own billing and collection and to hire new employees to undertake the new duties. The discounted cost of the usage data will enable the Board to implement the new process at a lower cost than it had been facing before the General Investigation.”
If the Commission approves the terms of the settlement, sewer customers of the Huntington Sanitary Board will begin receiving bills for sewer service rendered directly by the Sanitary Board in January, 2013 and, after December 31, 2012, water bills from West Virginia-American Water Company will no longer reflect the amount owed to the Sanitary Board for sewer service.
Anderson said that “this has been a matter of major concern to the Sanitary Board for many months and, while we did not get everything we wanted, the settlement reflects a series of compromises on the part of both the Company and the sewer utilities. We believe that the agreement was worth the effort we put forth and will minimize the disruption of Board activities and reduce the cost impact of the Company’s discontinuance of service on the Board’s customers.”
Details for how sewer bills can be paid will be released in the coming weeks.