Aqua Virginia Customers Protest Proposed Rate Increases

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Henderson and Gibb are leading a protest Henderson and Gibb are leading a protest
Aqua Virginia says it's invested $250,000 in Wintergreen since 2016 Aqua Virginia says it's invested $250,000 in Wintergreen since 2016

Hundreds of Nelson County customers of a water and sewer company are protesting proposed rate increases that could send their bills soaring more than $100 a year.

Aqua Virginia has dropped a request to state regulators to increase rates for wastewater service and cut its proposed water rate increase by almost half. The company credits federal tax cuts for these rate changes.

Aqua Virginia says its customers in the Stoney Creek community at Wintergreen will still see a 42 percent increase in water rates. That's for a customer using the average 3,000 gallons a month.

Bruce Henderson and Henry Gibb are leading a protest of the company's proposed rates and infrastructure fees. They say they've collected about 300 protest petitions from Aqua customers in Stoney Creek to send to state regulators as they consider the rate increase.

“We hope that this protest will, therefore, bring some gravity to the deliberations of the Virginia State Corporation Commission to say - hey, wait a minute, maybe these people are not being treated in the best way possible,” says Gibb.

Gibb and Henderson are urging their neighbors and Aqua Virginia customers statewide to stay aware of the company's proposed rate changes. They're also planning to speak at a public hearing in front of the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond on April 24.

Aqua says about 80 percent of the proposed rate increase is to recover costs of improvements to the water and sewer systems.

The company says it has invested about $250,000 at Wintergreen since 2016.

Statement from Aqua Virginia:

Aqua Virginia submitted a motion to the State Corporation Commission last month to reduce our new interim rates to enable all of our customers statewide to benefit right away from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The SCC approved our motion, which means we’ve cut our water rate increase by almost half and eliminated the rate increase for wastewater service. Aqua was glad to do this, and we’re not aware of any other Virginia utility that has undertaken such prompt voluntary action to immediately pass through the savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for the benefit of customers.

This means Wintergreen customers with an average monthly usage of 3,000 gallons will experience a 42-percent—not 49 percent—increase in interim water rates, and their wastewater rates will not increase at all.

The majority – about 80 percent – of Aqua’s rate increase is to help recover money we’ve already spent on significant improvements to water and wastewater systems for customers. The rest of the increase would cover operating costs to run the systems. Aqua has invested about $250,000 since 2016 to improve Wintergreen’s water and wastewater systems.