PUCO ruling to benefit some residential water rates in Prairie

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Select residents in Prairie Township will soon see cuts in their water bills thanks to recent action by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

At a recent Prairie Township meeting, the board discussed the savings residents will see.
PUCO authorized Aqua Ohio to establish a credit on customer bills to reflect the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on their rates. According to township leadership, Aqua Ohio will credit both water and sewer customers the amount the utilities have over collected, plus interest, since Jan. 1, 2018.

The total amount that will be credited back to customers is $4.8 million and will be passed back to all customers.

“Aqua Ohio customers will see the credit on their bills,” said Robert Peters, township administrator. “Residents will see the credit throughout the entire year.”

Residents will receive an additional $2.5 million annually, which reflects the remaining tax savings not currently accounted for in the rates.

Residential sewer customers will see a bill reduction of approximately 16 percent a month for the first year and 6.1 percent reduction in the years of two and beyond. A residential water customer will see a bill reduction of approximately 11.8 percent per month for the first year and a 6 percent reduction in years two and beyond.

Residents who receive water from Franklin County will continue at their current rates. However, township officials hope the city of Columbus will take over Franklin County water by April of this year, resulting in a reduction in pricing.

Residents have been complaining for years about the high water rates in the township.

Residents report that their bills are more than double those who have Columbus water, a serious issue for those living on low or fixed incomes.

Director of Franklin County Sanitary Engineers Stephen Renner was scheduled to attend a recent meeting and provide an update on when Columbus will take over water services, but the township delayed him coming until there was more information to share.

“I asked Mr. Renner not to come to the recent meeting because nothing has changed right now and we had a variety of other items on the agenda,” Peters said. “We still have a target date of April 2020 to have this transition from the county to the city of Columbus. As soon as there is more information to share, we will share it.”

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