CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia American Water has reached a tentative agreement with state regulators that would allow the company to raise rates, but only by about a third of what it had originally proposed.
In December, the company filed a request with the state Public Service Commission asking for a $24.2 million increase.
The proposal would have meant a nearly 20 percent increase in consumer rates. Under the plan, the average water customer's bill would have gone up by about $8.13 a month.
The company said the increase was needed to recoup the nearly $85 million it has spent since 2009 on rehabilitation of water storage tanks and upgrading water lines, booster stations and water treatment facilities.
Consumer groups, including the state AARP, hotly protested, saying low-income consumers could not afford the company's request.
The PSC was expected to begin a multi-day hearing on the case Monday.
However, early Monday morning, attorneys for the water company and the state Consumer Advocate Division filed a joint motion indicating they, along with PSC staff attorneys, had reached an agreement in principle on comprehensive settlement in the case.
The tentative agreement would allow the water company to raise rates by about $8.1 million over the next year -- roughly one-third of what the company had originally asked for.
The agreement also includes a "stay-out" provision that would prevent West Virginia American Water from filing for another rate increase before Jan. 1, 2015.
Attorneys were still working out specifics of the plan, including proposed rate schedules, and were not yet ready to present it to the PSC for review.