Legislative agenda

Establish and Defend Water Consumer Rights in America

Legislative Agenda

1. All customers are charged the same base rate for availability and the same per gallon usage charge. Charges should reflect the actual cost of water delivery and a fair/reasonable profit

2. Bill by meter size only if:

3.

a. Water mains were installed to support larger user meters in the past year.
or
Improvements will be completed in the next 5 years

b. Surcharge ends after 5 years
or

c. Needed for fire sprinklers or industrial load. Only the end user that needs these services are billed by size.

4. Bill by flow rate rather than meter size if loading the system is an issue.

5. Improved customer education and advocacy that better serves the people.

6. The State conducts the audit of financial status when the utility goes to ICC for rate increases

7. Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC)

8.

a. Add 6 elected commissioners to the 5 existing appointed ICC commissioners

9. Right to have the meter tested by a 3rd party, learn the results, and it have fixed.

10.Right for communities, public or private, to force purchase or buy back systems.

11. Municipalities may lease systems rather than sell.

12. Stop the distribution of funds from one community water system to another.

13.We support:

a. Repeal of automatic rate increase in HB 4508 Illinois (100th GA)
b. House Bill 2392: Require voters’ OK sale of public water assets
c. Senate Bill 1724

Discussion:

1. People should only be billed for what they use. The current practice of billing by meter size charges residential users by what they may use not by what they actually use. The argument is that a larger house supply pipe creates a larger load on the system. The consumer has no choice in the matter. State plumbing code has required larger
pipe sizes over the years.

2. Billing by meter size should only be done when the company can justify the infrastructure improvements needed to support larger meters. The current practice has been to Simply Institute higher base rates for larger meters with no infrastructure improvements to support them. Hence it is just extra markup for the utility company.

3. If the utility is concerned about the load larger meter sizes place on the system, they may also bill by flow rather than having a large base charge. This fits with the idea in item number one that people only pay for what they use. If they have a larger supply and they use more water more quickly it will create a load on the system. A flow rate surcharge can be added for those who use large amounts of water all at once and overload the system. A fixed base rate charge for larger meter size does nothing to discourage people from overloading the system.

4. There are several approaches to increasing what are user education and advocacy.

5.

a. Should be an easy path for water consumers to take their disputes with water companies to small claims court.

b. Water companies should be required to enclose consumer Advocate information from Citizens for Water Consumer Rights and Citizens Utility Board.

c. Citizens Utility Board should receive expanded funding and Staffing to hire the growing number of private utility company cases.

6. The state should conduct audits when utility companies go to the Interstate Commerce Commission for rate increases. This should be done in conjunction with your already existing practice of having a separate accounting firm do an audit.

7. More private water system acquisitions are taxing the ICC. We need more members from throughout the state and members that are responsible to the people. These additional members could be elected at large or by region.

8. The current ICC consumers rights dictate that the consumer has a right to have the meter tested and have the results reported to them, but not necessarily to have it fixed.

9. This provides protection to the community in the event that a water company that manages the system and overcharges customers. It would be triggered by a referendum in the community whether public or private.

10. Leasing a system rather than selling it gives a municipality or a private Community the power to find another company if the current one fails to meet their needs.

11. Each community water system should operate on its own even if it is owned by a larger company. Communities that have been responsible for their water use and maintaining their systems are now paying for poor business decisions made by the large companies that buy failing systems. Company will buy a rundown system charge all of its other customers more money so that it can restore that system to profitability. In a free market economy, this works fine as the customers can choose whether to stay with that company and fund the expansion with their patronage or go to another one. But water utility consumers have no choice they’re stuck with what they have. This has to end!