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UICN water rate hike approved

Utilities, Inc. of Central Nevada’s customers in Pahrump will see changes in their water and sewer bills this month after the rate increase was recently approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

The PUC granted UICN a water rate increase and sewer rate decrease following an extensive review and audit of costs presented in thousands of pages of financial information and public testimony at open hearings over the last few months.

The impact of the rate changes for homeowners will be a 7.2 percent increase for water, which will take the average monthly charge from $29.50 to $31.64. A monthly charge for sewer will decrease from $46.26 to $46.24, according to the UICN press release.

“We have spent significant funds on a variety of projects which allow us to insure the delivery of the highest quality water and wastewater service possible and this ruling, while not everything we had asked for, makes it possible for us to continue to make the needed investment these complex systems require,” UICN President Wendy Barnett said in a press release.

The approval was granted on Feb.18 and the instruction to increase rates went to the UICN billing department on Feb. 28, said Tom Oakley, director of public relations for Illinois-based parent company Utilities, Inc.

Barnett also said that the new rates set by the PUC represent “what it believes serve the public interest – rates that are reasonable and fair for customers,” while allowing UICN to be a viable, healthy business and earn a fair return for shareholders.

UICN submitted the order to adjust its annual revenue requirement for water and sewer service rates for all customers to pay for a number of completed community projects on June 30, 2015.

The approval included $220,000 for the 12-inch Dandelion Pipeline; $130,000 for improvements to lift stations 4, 10 and 11; $380,000 for the Willow Creek property purchase; $400,000 for the Calvada North pipeline; $640,000 for Willow Creek Golf Course land stabilization and other projects that totaled over an additional $200,000.

Additionally, UICN’s innovative program of water conservation rebates on high-efficiency toilets and washing machines and the removal of major water-wasting Salt Cedar trees resulted in recovery of just over $4,000.

Oakley previously said the majority of the projects had been deemed “prudent” in the Integrated Resource Plan process with the PUCN prior to the case.

A few items in the case are yet to be finalized. UICN is still in disagreement with the PUC over Blagg Road litigation invoices and two projects on Highway 160. Barnett said the company had petitioned for reconsideration of the decision.

“As is always the case in rate decisions, negotiation between the parties took place through this process and while there are still some items to be finalized, we are pleased that the commission acted in the best interest of ratepayers and the company,” Barnett said.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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