Residents gain small victory in fight against OAW
Steve Kennedy thinks residents are making headway in their fight against Ohio American Water.
The Prairie Township trustee announced the latest developments in the ongoing fight between consumers and OAW at the most recent trustees meeting.
Kennedy said the Office of the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel released a statement in favor of the residents on Jan. 4.
The press release claims the agency had “discovered OAW allocated a disproportionate percentage of its costs to residential customers that subsidize the rates that industrial customers pay.”
In June 2009, OAW proposed a rate increase to PUCO a $25 million rate increase to be collected from customers over a four year period.
“The major thing that the OCC came up with was that up north there are some major manufacturers that use OAW and the manufacturers haven’t had a price increase for years and the residents were supplementing those manufactures and they (OCC) determined that shouldn’t be the case,” Kennedy explained.
According to the press release, “the adjustments proposed by the OCC reflect corrections and changes to the PUCO’s Nov. 27 staff report. Combined with the PUCO staff’s recommendations, OAW customers would see a decrease of more than $7.3 million for water and wastewater rates.”
"We've seen a lot of struggling customers," said Anthony Rodriguez, spokesman for OCC. "We were looking for any way that we can lower their rates."
Rodriguez stressed the importance of ensuring OAW customers are only paying for their own water services.
"They can't afford it," he said.
Kennedy said Prairie Township was hoping the use of a public relations company to shed light on the issue would prove positive.
He said he was pleased to hear the news, but stressed that negotiations between OAW and the OCC are the next step and they will be coming to a compromise.
“I have to believe a lot of this wouldn’t have happened if Prairie Township wouldn’t have stepped to the foreground and tried to look at something outside of the box that nobody has ever tried before and it seems to work,” said Kennedy. “It is still very important that all the residents show up at these public hearings to tell their stories about the quality issues and the price issues.”
The grassroots efforts will continue with five public hearings scheduled within the next two weeks.
Kennedy encourages Prairie Township residents to attend the Jan. 21 meeting at Harvest Assembly of God located at 8075 Dellinger Road in Galloway, Ohio. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m.
Other public hearing times can be found at www.fightthehikeohio.com.