CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Water rates for 171,000 West Virginia American Water customers will go up 7 percent next month under a rate plan approved Thursday by the state Public Service Commission.
Average residential customers would see rates go up between $2.77 to $3.57 a month under the new rate plan.
The commission's ruling approves most aspects of a compromise proposal negotiated between the water company and state regulatory staff in July.
The water company had originally approached the commission last December seeking a $24.2 million increase that would have raised residential rates by nearly 20 percent.
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 chapter of the AARP, strongly campaigned against the rate plan, saying it would hurt already cash-strapped residents and seniors.
In July, water company attorneys, PSC staff and the Consumer Advocate Division presented a compromise proposal, referred to as a joint stipulation, that allowed for a smaller, $8.1 million water rate increase.
The agreement also included a "stay-out" provision that would prevent West Virginia American Water from filing for another rate increase before Jan. 1, 2015.
In addition to the water rate increase, the compromise also called for an increase in sewer rates for the 1,100 customers in the company's Fayetteville wastewater system.
The original proposal sought to raise $337,412 in annual revenue for that system. But because that would have required a hefty 44 percent increase in sewer rates for those customers, the compromise agreement allowed the water company to spread $231,151 of those costs across its water rate base.
As a result, sewer rates for Fayetteville customers would rise by about 14 percent.