ROXBURY, NJ – Less than a year after it took over the former Roxbury Water Company and pledged it had no plan to raise rates, New Jersey American Water (NJAW) announced today it needs a rate increase.
The Camden-based company said it filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for new rates “based on the significant investment the company has made or will make into its water and wastewater infrastructure” since it last sought a rate hike.
If the proposed rates are approved, the monthly water bill for the average residential customer, one using 5,400 gallons per month, would increase from the current charge of $55.89 to $62.35, an increase of $6.46 per month, or 21 cents per day, according to the company.
NJAW has about 4,000 customers in Roxbury. All other township properties without private wells get water from the township water utility.
“Even with these increases, the cost of high-quality, reliable, 24-hour water service would continue to be about a penny per gallon and remain among the lowest household utility bills,” said the company.
NJAW said the proposed new rates would increase its annual revenue by about $87.7 million. The BPU will make the decision regarding the actual increase. Once the BPU makes a decision, NJAW will send letters to customers detailing the rate change, it said.
“Since our last rate case, we have invested or will invest more than $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades, including over 95 miles … of water main, to ensure continued water quality, service reliability and fire protection for the more than 2.7 million people in 18 counties who depend on us every day,” said Cheryl Norton, the company’s president, in a statement.
Norton said the expenditures were not only “critical to the public’s health and safety, but they also support the economic health of the communities” served by the company. “This level of investment contributes to the creation of approximately 16,000 jobs across the state.”
Among the improvements to its system cited by the company is the implementation of additional leak detection technology in the company’s central and north operating regions and replacement or upgrades to dozens of wells, pumping stations and other critical facilities throughout the state.
The company said it renews aging water mains on a 90- to 100-year cycle. It said its system “is fully compliant with each requirement of the law, including Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, licensing of water supply and wastewater operators, water supply allocation permits, hydrant and valve maintenance, cyber security, violation mitigation plans and infrastructure improvement/capital investment plans.”
Norton said New Jersey American Water’s rates are based on the actual cost of providing water. “To help mitigate rate increases for customers, we work very hard to control our costs and operate as efficiently as possible,” she said.
The rate approval process can take a minimum of nine months, the company said noting its petition and associated exhibits are being posted to its website under Customer Service, Your Water Rates.
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