In June 2010, WVAW requested a 15 percent rate increase. The company later trimmed the request to 13 percent. In April 2011, though, the PSC approved a rate hike of only 4.4 percent.
In response to the lower-than-expected rate increase, West Virginia American cut its capital spending budget by $5.2 million, scrapped major pipe replacement projects and eliminated construction plans that involve public/private partnerships.
The company also tried to lay off 31 employees, but the PSC ordered the utility to keep all but a handful of the workers.
The state's largest water utility, WVAW also has West Virginia's highest rates, Harris said.
WVAW customers pay $50.50 on average for 4,500 gallons of water. Fairmont has the next highest rate in West Virginia, at $39.92 a month.
WVAW has about 170,000 customers in 19 counties. The company serves Charleston and Huntington.
Carper said the Kanawha County Commission's water bill would increase about $8,000 a year if the PSC approves the rate hike.
"This isn't just going to affect individuals," Carper said. "Look at what it will cost the school board, the city of Charleston and the private sector, too."
The water company also is requesting an 81 percent rate increase for wastewater customers. WVAW owns one wastewater system, the Fayetteville Wastewater Treatment Plant. If the rate increase is granted in full, wastewater rates would increase the average residential monthly sewer from $35.78 to $65.81.
The company said in a statement that it invested $682,000 in infrastructure improvements at the Fayetteville plant between 2008 and 2011 "to bring this troubled system into regulatory compliance."
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.