CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The average West Virginia American Water customer's monthly bill will go up by 7 percent under a compromise rate plan filed Tuesday with the state Public Service Commission.
Under the proposal, which still needs final PSC approval, average residential customers would see rates go up by between $2.77 to $3.57 a month.
While it still means higher costs for consumers, the 7 percent increase is far less than the 20 percent the company sought.
It is also the last hike the utility's 171,000 customers will have to absorb until at least late 2015.
The compromise settlement plan was hashed out through negotiations between water company attorneys, PSC staff and the Consumer Advocate Division. It was presented to PSC commissioners during a hearing Tuesday afternoon.
"This agreement is based on extensive negotiations and substantial compromises by all parties as a way to expedite and simplify the resolution of this case," West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said in a statement.
"We think it's a fair settlement of the case, especially considering that customers are guaranteed of not having a rate increase over the next two years," said Byron Harris, director of the Consumer Advocate Division.
The water company filed a request with the PSC in December seeking rate increases to generate an additional $24 million in annual revenue for the utility.
The company asked for the additional revenue to help pay off about $85 million worth of system upgrades made since 2009.
Consumer groups, including the state chapter of the AARP, strongly campaigned against the rate plan, saying it would hurt already cash-strapped residents and seniors.
Consumer Advocate Division staff analyzed the company's accounting and financial projections and felt the company could justify a smaller $3 to $4.5 million rate increase.
"We felt like they had a lot of things in there they weren't likely to get in (a final commission) order," Harris said.
Several compromises were reached.