United Water customers in South Kingstown and Narragansett could soon see an increase in their monthly water bills.
United Water Rhode Island filed an application for rate relief last week with the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission to increase the typical residential customer bill by approximately $10.30 per month – or 34 cents per day.
The request is based on $5.7 million in water system investments “designed to improve water supply, system resiliency, water quality, infrastructure reliability and fire protection,” according to United Water.
South Kingstown Town Manager Stephen A. Alfred said this latest request comes within a year of the last rate increase that was approved by the public utilities commission.
“That rate increase was in the double digit range, around 14 percent,” Alfred said Tuesday. “This rate increase is suggesting up to a 30 percent increase.”
Alfred said if approved, the increase would have a “major impact” on both homeowners and the town of South Kingstown, which purchases water wholesale from United Water.
“If rates continue to go up, or go up by what’s requested, a sizable adjustment will have to be made to the rates charged to the customers,” he said. “The town needs to look at [United Water’s] rate filing to determine whether they want to seek intervention status with the [public utilities commission] to be able to better analyze the rates and provide input and evidence at that [rate] hearing.”
Alfred said if the rate increase were approved, it would not affect the town as a ratepayer, but customers on United Water, South Kingstown and Middlebridge water systems. Alfred said the increase would also affect those residents who purchase water in Narragansett through United Water or another group.
The proposed increase would also impact the fire districts paying for fire hydrant rentals, according to Alfred.
“This has a broad impact on the general area serviced by United Water,” he said. “The municipalities and fire districts are going to have to seriously evaluate how they participate in the [public utilities commission] process.”
United Water Rhode Island services about 19,500 customers in South Kingstown and Narragansett.