By Mark Waite
Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada filed its rate case with the Public Utilities Commission, which became public this week. The company will keep water consumption rates the same for residences but increase them for commercial service. However, sewer rates are likely going up for all customers.
UICN wants an additional $245,810 in water service revenues for a total of $3.3 million, or an 8-percent increase. They requested additional sewer revenues of $422,301, for a total of $2.89 million, an increase of 19.5 percent.
Sewer rates will go up from $41.84 per month to $49.98 for residential-size meters, if the utility’s request is approved.
Bigger commercial accounts, using a four-inch meter, would see their monthly sewer rates rise from $1,047.54 to $1,251.44 while the user of an eight-inch meter would see monthly rates rise from $2,297.83 to $2,745.10. UICN proposes the same monthly sewer fee of $16.54 per bed for the Nevada Southern Detention Center.
Residential water service consumption charges will remain the same, at $1.21 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons, then $2.04 per 1,000 gallons from 6,001 to 30,000 gallons; those using more than 30,000 gallons per month will continue to pay $3.11 per 1,000 gallons. That’s in addition to the monthly water service charge, that will remain unchanged, ranging from $17.82 per month to $22.28 per month for most residential meters.
But commercial accounts would see their water consumption rates rise from $1.03 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons to $1.44 per 1,000 gallons. Those using from 6,001 to 30,000 gallons would see their cost rise from $1.75 per 1,000 gallons to $2.44. For those using more than 30,000 gallons, their cost per 1,000 gallons rises from $2.65 to $3.68, though that rate for customers with meters bigger than four inches who consume more than 30,000 gallons goes up from $2.82 per 1,000 gallons to $3.84.
UICN is requesting a 38-percent increase in irrigation rates. Customers who pay $2.28 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons, $3.84 per 1,000 gallons from 6,001 to 30,000 gallons and $5.85 per 1,000 gallons above that would see their rates rise to $3.16 for the first 6,000 gallons, $5.30 for the next level and $8.10 per 1,000 gallons for the highest users.
Rates also would increase for people who want service turned on or off outside regular business hours, from $57 to $74. There are also additional fines for tampering.
People who want to file petitions to intervene or participate as a commenter in the rate case must file notice at the PUC office before Jan. 30. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada address is 1150 E. William St., Carson City, Nev. 89701 or 9075 W. Diablo Dr., Suite 250, Las Vegas, Nev. 89148.
In testimony for the rate case, UICN Regional Manager Wendy Barnett said the company wants to recover $180,503 in upgrades to the equalization building at sewer plant No. 3 on Willow Creek golf course, $83,466 for upgrades to lift station No. 3, $163,388 in corrosion control and $76,447 for upgrades to their video van.
UICN replaced the steel support structure of the pre-equalization basin, an emergency project due to the condition of the structural beams. UICN also changed an intake pipe, which had to be removed by a crane after the roof was removed. Barnett said the configuration of the pipe caused unnecessary turbulence increasing the production of hydrogen sulfide, other odors and corrosion.
The electrical panel at lift station No. 3, the main lift station which receives the majority of the flow from the main commercial district, was 16 years old and didn’t comply with current electrical safety standards, the company states. Hydrogen sulfide gas was corroding the concrete wet well, UICN put epoxy coating on the well extending the life of the worn-out asset.
A pilot ozone system for odor control reduced sulfides by almost 90 percent at lift station No.3 and almost 44 percent at the treatment plant, Barnett said.
Equipment at the old video van was outdated and getting difficult to obtain as CCTV technology evolved.
UICN wants to recover the cost of three lawsuits over the former Willow Creek golf course, it estimates their cost at $621,451, which is offset by the payment of $162,550 the company received in November from Jorei Enterprises.Th included the lawsuit over the tripartite agreement on the recycled effluent and irrigation costs, litigation over water rights and maintenance of the ponds.
Willow Creek golf course owner Jim Scott, who filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hasn’t paid UICN the $516,162 a senior judge awarded the utility company over litigation costs in March, Barnett said “there is doubt as to whether UICN will be able to collect its award.”
Barnett’s testimony said: “Based on information provided by Mr. Scott to the Nevada District Court it appears remediation of just the three most degraded ponds at the golf course would cost more than $400,000. In addition, there is a $500,000 deed of trust held by a third party that encumbers the golf course.”
UICN is asking the Public Utilities Commission to track costs for the collapse of lift stations and sinkholes on Blagg Road after a major rain storm in December 2010 for any possible recovery from contractors or responsible parties, or for a future rate case. Barnett said UICN has $277,030 in costs for Blagg Road repairs, $73,946 for repairing and upgrading three lift stations and $59,411 in trench repairs required by the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Corrections Corporation of America extended water and sewer lines along Blagg Road and then down Mesquite Avenue to the new Nevada Southern Detention Center in 2010. The estimated cost of the infrastructure was $11.1 million, UICN paid $2.1 million for a portion of a water tank and upgrading a lift station and force main, CCA paid the remainder. The combined cost came out to $10.03 million, the difference UICN credited to CCA.
In addition, UICN asks for $278,635 to extend 4,872 feet of water main and 4,959 feet of sewer main and accessories, along with acquiring easements, to serve a portion of Ishani Ridge subdivision in May 2011.
Utilities Inc. wants to recover $303,690 spent on the Integrated Resource Plan, a new planning document required by state law. The plan was filed March 1, 2011 and approved by the PUC Aug. 12, 2011.
UICN also wants to recover the difference between costs approved for different projects in the 2009 rate case and the final costs.
That included looping dead end lines that cost $103,934 instead of the $69,139 the PUC approved; the $860,941 for installing a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisitions SCADA system which exceeded the $774,875 the PUC approved; the water tank for the new detention center cost a little more than the $871,200 the PUC approved and UICN built lift station No. 4 at Wilson Road and Big Five Road, for which the company spent $1.2 million and was allowed $1.087 million.