New public hearing set on Aquarion’s 23% rate increase request

Another public comment hearing will be held on Aquarion Water Co.’s proposed rate increases in the region on Tuesday, July 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairfield Warde High School auditorium, 755 Melville Ave., Fairfield.

Area residents and business representatives can attend the public comment hearing to voice any concerns they may have on the proposed rate increases for each of the next three years.

Aquarion, which serves Shelton and 46 other communities in Connecticut, has requested a rate increase as high as almost 23% for residential users over the next three years, depending on the specific community. Rates are slightly lower for commercial, public authority (municipal) and fire department users.

State agency oversees the rates

The public hearing will be held by the state Public Utilities Regulatory Agency (PURA), which regulates the rates and services of Connecticut’s investor-owned electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunication companies.

If the requested increases should be approved, they would take effect in September. PURA is expected to make the decision in August.

The July 9 public hearing was scheduled after a June 18 hearing in Fairfield was packed with people upset with the possible increase. So many people attended that some could not get into the room where the hearing was taking place.

Shelton resident criticizes rate hike

Joseph Knapik of Shelton was among those who spoke at June 18 meeting. He reminded PURA that the proposed increase was 18.8% above the rate of inflation.

“Approximately three years ago Aquarion received a 15% increase,” Knapik said. “Aquarion used the last increase to purchase several water companies at ratepayers’ expense. Let this monopoly pay for its own expansion, not the citizen ratepayers.”

The Aquarion viewpoint

Aquarion says the increase will help the company to continue to invest in infrastructure to serve 625,000 residents in Connecticut.

Aquarion Water Co. of Connecticut serves many residents and businesses in Shelton, and also is one of the city’s largest taxpayers due to its reservoirs, other land holdings, and equipment. The company also serves parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

‘These excessive increases’

Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau also was at the June 18 meeting, noting the requested increase would cost the town of Fairfield $200,000 more a year.

“I had made strong objections to these excessive increases on behalf of the town at the June hearing,” Tetreau said in a recent statement. “I will also attend the July hearing.

“Since these increases could also affect other municipalities in the state,” Tetreau continued, “I have reached out to my fellow mayors and first selectmen to encourage them to let PURA know of any objections they may have. I am hoping that a collaborated effort will help to mitigate the final rate increases.”

Comments can be sent in writing to PURA

A few other public hearings on the Aquarion proposed rate increase are taking place in other parts of the state.

In addition to attending the July 9 hearing, Aquarion customers in Shelton can send comments either in writing to PURA at 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051, or by email to Correspondence should be noted with docket number 13-02-20 so it can be entered into the testimony.

More information is available on PURA’s website,