West Virginia Public Service Commission approves bid

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The West Virginia Public Service Commission has approved a surcharge for West Virginia American Water customers to fund system-wide infrastructure improvements.

The order, received on Friday, approved an agreement struck in November between the utility and the Commission’s Consumer Advocacy Division. It allows West Virginia American Water to add a 5.98% surcharge to monthly water bills. That’s about $3.63 for the average residential customer, the utility said in a statement. For most customers, the surcharge will be prorated on their first bill for 2023.

The money will fund $48.7 million in upgrades the utility plans to complete in 2023. This amount includes $31 million to replace or upgrade more than 16 miles of water mains; $6.4 million for utility line and hydrant replacements; and $9.3 million for water meter replacement. An additional $2 million will be spent on upgrading turbid water systems, which the utility will acquire.

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The bid was approved by West Virginia’s Distribution System Improvement Program and will allow the utility to more quickly recoup the cost of infrastructure investments deemed to be in the public interest.

The purpose of the fee is “to address the national challenge of aging water infrastructure by directing additional investment to areas where improvement is most needed,” said Robert Burton, president of West Virginia American Water, in a press release. “All parties involved The agreement recognizes the accelerated investments we have made since the introduction of this markup in 2017 and recognizes that this investment is a significant priority in the best interests of customers.”

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