GC water rates to increase by 45 percent

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY  —  When Glenwood City residents open their next water bills, they can expect to see an increase of 45 percent on the water rate.

Glenwood City applied to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to increase the water rates on October 25, 2016, according to documents available on the PSC’s website.

[emember_protected] The PSC held a public hearing at 10 a.m. June 1 on the request to increase water rates at the Amnicon Falls hearing room in Madison and by telephone at the Glenwood city hall.

The PSC website does not indicate if any city residents attended the public hearing or submitted comments to the PSC.

The Glenwood City Tribune Press Reporter was not on the PSC’s mailing list for the public hearing notice.

According to the public notice to all customers of the Glenwood City municipal water utility filed with the PSC May 30, “the increase is necessary due to the $1.2 million Well No. 4 project to replace Well No. 2, which will result in an 84 percent increase in utility plant, and to a 47 percent increase in operating expenses since the last water rate case in 2012.”

The public notice goes on to say, “the increase in water revenues requested is $61,330 which will result in an estimated overall rate increase of 46 percent over the water utility’s present revenues.”

The notice indicates the water bill for an average residential customer with a 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch meter using 10,000 gallons of water per quarter will increase from $37.40 to $54, representing a 44 percent increase.

Sharon Rosenow, city clerk, filed a notice received by the PSC June 12 that the new water rates would go into effect after the meter reading date of June 15.

The PSC issued its final decision to approve the water rate increase June 12.

Operating revenues after the rate increase has been in effect are expected to be $201,440, and instead of having an operating loss of $32,366, the Glenwood City water utility is expected to have an income of $28,964.

Glenwood City residents had 20 days from June 12 to petition the PSC for a rehearing of the water rate case and had 30 days to request a petition for judicial review.

While residential water rates in Glenwood City will increase by 45 percent, multi-family residential will increase by 66 percent. Commercial water rates will increase by 29 percent. The public authority water rate will increase by 41 percent, and the public fire protection rate will increase by 48 percent.

According to the final decision, “the overall increase in annual revenues is 45.78 percent, comprised of a 44.56 percent increase in general service charges and a 48.32 percent increase in fire protection charges. A typical residential customer’s bill will rise 44.39 percent. Rates have risen because of an 84.36 percent increase in gross plant investment and a 46.96 percent increase in operating expenses since the applicant’s last rate case in 2012. The typical bills calculated using the authorized rates are below average when compared with those of similar water utilities in the state.”

Glenwood City applied to the PSC November 21, 2016, for the authority to replace Well No. 2 by constructing replacement Well No. 4.

The $1.2 million well replacement project will include abandoning Well No. 2, constructing Well No. 4, building a new well house, upgrading the electrical service to the new well, installing a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, acquiring a portable emergency power generator and making repairs to a storage standpipe.

Since Well No. 2 is out of service, if Well No. 3 were to fail, Glenwood City would have difficulty providing water to its residents, according to the final decision dated April 21, 2017, to allow Well No. 4 to be constructed.

“The Department of Natural Resources has required that Well No. 2 be upgraded to meet certain standards or be abandoned and replaced. Other proposed improvements will improve water system operational efficiencies and reliability,” the final decision notes.

In addition, the final decision to grant authority to construct Well No. 4 states the Glenwood City water utility  “determined that reconstruction of Well No. 2 was not feasible because of the age of the well and existing well house. The Utility also looked at meeting water demands by interconnection with another utility. However, the nearest water system is seven miles from Glenwood City, and the Utility determined that the cost of interconnection would be over $5.5 million and is therefore cost prohibitive.”

Construction of Well No. 4 must begin within two years of the certificate of authority dated April 21, 2017.

If construction is not started within two years, the certificate of authority will become void unless Glenwood City files a written request for an extension or the PSC grants an extension. [/emember_protected]