CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia AARP members plan to hold West Virginia American Water to its promise not to raise rates before 2015.
"We're going to see if we can hold them to that," said Gaylene Miller, AARP's West Virginia director. "We will be keeping an eye on that."
Last year, the water company agreed not to ask for a rate hike until January 2015, after the Public Service Commission approved a 7 percent increase that took effect in October.
Water customers and some state officials have speculated the company might seek to raise rates sooner to recoup costs related to the Jan. 9 chemical spill and water shutdown.
"If the cleanup is what we understand it's going to be, and it results in higher rates, it's not going to just impact people affected by the water crisis; It will affect all West Virginia American customers," Miller said.
AARP leaders plan to work with the Public Service Commission's Consumer Advocate Division to ensure that West Virginia American Water -- which already has some of the highest water rates in the state -- keeps its pledge not to seek an increase before next year.
Miller said West Virginia seniors -- many on fixed incomes -- couldn't afford another water rate hike.
"Folks are struggling to make ends meet as it is," Miller said.