To our customers, clients, and neighbors –
The Whitinsville Water Company (WWC) recently filed a request for a rate increase with the Massachusetts Department of Utilities (DPU). The DPU last allowed WWC to increase our rates in 2018. Those rates were set by the DPU on the basis of our operating and capital improvements costs ending on December 31, 2016.
Recently the DPU held a public hearing where local officials and Northbridge residents provided comments. During this hearing, several residents expressed their concerns, particularly about the size of the proposed increase to the rates and their ability to pay for them. Whitinsville Water personnel also attended this meeting, heard what our customers had to say, and understands the challenges faced by many customers to pay ever-increasing costs of living, including the Company’s water rates.
At the same time, WWC has an obligation to provide safe and reliable service. Unfortunately, the costs to provide such services have increased significantly from the 2016 cost levels that our current rates are based on. Also, WWC has invested over $7.9 million dollars in the system over this period, including new generators which allow us to maintain operations during power outages, improved cybersecurity, replacing outdated equipment, while also installing over 18,000 linear feet of new water main, countless valves and numerous fire hydrants. Over these last seven years, Whitinsville Water’s cost to provide service have increased by approximately 50%. Spread out over that time, the proposed increase in rates we have put forward amount to about 6% annually. Our proposed cost for water delivered to your home is approximately 1 cent per gallon.
Although the Company seeks to keep its operations as efficient as possible, and its rates as low as possible, we are exposed to the same inflationary increases that every person and company in Northbridge has faced over the last seven years. This includes the cost of labor, the material cost of new pipe, electricity needed to pump the water, chemicals used in treatment, vehicle costs and insurance increases to name a few. Seeking a rate increase is a lengthy and involved regulatory process that requires Whitinsville Water to present extensive documentation to State Officials as justification for the increase. Rate increases are granted only after the DPU, the Town and the Attorney General have each examined this documentation, consulted experts, held hearings, and determined the increase to be reasonable. If approved, these rates will not go into effect until June 2024.
The Whitinsville Water Company is proud to have served the people of Northbridge since 1954. We are committed to providing our customers with the best possible service and the highest quality water at the lowest possible rate. Please contact us directly if you have any questions.