Aiken County water and sewer customers of Carolina Water Service could see their water rates nearly double, if state regulators approve the provider's request for a rate increase.
The S.C Office of Regulatory Staff has received an application for an 80 percent water-rate increase and a 14 percent sewer-rate increase from Carolina Water Service, Inc.
Carolina Water Service has more than 7,600 water and 11,000 sewer customers in Aiken, Beaufort, Georgetown, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, Williamsburg and York counties.
For customers using an average of 7,000 gallons of water per month, the increase requested by CWS would result in a $35.94 full-service water bill rising to $65.30. A full-service sewer bill of $39.00 would grow to $44.32.
The ORS will file testimony in the case after completing an audit and examination of Carolina Water Service's financial records.
“There is no good time for a rate increase," said ORS Executive Director Dukes Scott in a statement. "In these still-fragile economic times, the impact of such a substantial increase must be carefully considered in light of all aspects of the public interest that we are charged to represent.”
ORS represents the public interest and acts as a party of record in proceedings before the S.C. Public Service Commission.
The company's application, submitted by attorney Scott Elliott, a former Public Service Commission member, says the rate increase is intended to help the company upgrade its infrastructure and "enable it to earn a reasonable return on its investment and to attract capital for future improvements."
In addition to Aiken County, Carolina Water Service has customers in Beaufort, Georgetown, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, Williamsburg, and York counties.
The rate increase is not a done deal. Members of the public may speak up by getting involved in the process and attend hearings.
Reach Sarita Chourey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 727-4257