State Attorney General Says Water Company Rate Increase Request Excessive; Hearing Held At Hamilton County Courthouse

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Consumer Advocate with the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office says Tennessee American Water Company's rate increase is far more than is necessary.

The consumer office has pre-filed testimony "of numerous experts supporting the need for no more than a $2.8 million rate increase for Chattanooga area residents based on information available at the time of filing." The requested rate hike of $10.6 million is the sixth requested in the past nine years.

Members of the Tennessee Regulatory Agency held a  hearing at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Wednesday.

Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk was among those speaking at the hearing, noting there is a $300,000 expense in pumping water to the top of the mountain. His town and Walden have intervened along with Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association.

Mayor Ron Littlefield was present at the hearing, but did not speak. City Attorney Mike McMahan said the city will make its presentation at a later hearing. The TRA must make a decision by December.

Businessman Jim Folkner rapped the rate increase, saying the water company request "should be denied in its entirety."

He said, "This is a monopoly. They come here from somewhere else, use our water for free, and take as much of our money home as they can."

He said Tennessee American "is not a good corporate citizen." He said the firm is refusing to any longer include sewer charges on its water bills, causing local governments sizable new expenses.

Rep. JoAnne Favors took no position, but Rep. Richard Floyd said the increase was not justified.

TAWC has about 74,500 customers in Chattanooga and Hamilton County. It also has customers in Cleveland and Bradley County.

TAWC released the following statement: "Ongoing investments to renew and replace water treatment facilities, pumps and pipelines are one of the primary drivers for the rate request. This filing covers approximately $25 million in local water infrastructure investments that the water company has either made or plans to make during the next 18 months. 

"These investments are critical to what we do every day in delivering high-quality and reliable water service to our customers at an exceptional value -- a cost that remains less than a half-penny per gallon." 

The Attorney General’s Office typically represents consumers’ interests in matters involving telecommunications, energy, sewer, and water rate-making and regulation issues that are presented to the TRA for review, it was stated.

“My office is concerned that the Chattanooga area residents will have higher water rates than other major Tennessee cities if the TRA approves this latest hike TAWC has proposed,” Attorney General Bob Cooper said. “We will urge the TRA to reject this proposed rate increase as disproportionate in relation to the company’s ability to make a fair profit.”

A separate hearing on the merits of the case is scheduled for Oct. 15 and is expected to last most of the week at a location to be determined later.

Over the past nine years, the TRA granted rate increases to the TWAC totaling 32.7 percent for consumers. The last rate increase resulted in new rates effective April 2010. The attorney general has intervened in each of the five previous cases as have the city of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association.

For more information on this case, please see filings at the TRA website athttp://www.state.tn.us/tra/dockets/1200049.htm


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALLEN, SEDRICK DEWAYNE  2211 VANCE AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 29 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- BOOKER, TRIAN  723 MCGOWAN AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37411  Age at Arrest: 25 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Drug Dealer Gets 80-Month Federal Sentence

A Chattanooga man with prior convictions for selling drugs was sentenced to serve 80 months for being a felon in possession of a weapon. Kevyn Nash appeared before Judge Travis McDonough. On Feb., 28, 2016, while on patrol in the 3700 block of Dodds Avenue, a city police officer observed a white Chrysler Concord traveling north on Dodds Avenue. Upon catching up to the vehicle ... (click for more)

Tennessee Business Expansions On Rise Across State

In 2016, Tennessee was named State of the Year for Economic Development by Southern Business & Development Magazine based on project totals and the variety of industries that invested in the state and created jobs. To a great extent, Bradley and Polk Counties have benefited from that investment.   From February 2015 to February 2016, Cleveland/Bradley County led the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Public Defender And The Mental Health Court

I am holding in my hand a list of the names of 50 very real people who cost the taxpayers of Hamilton County a combined $3,037.090 in incarceration charges before July 2015. These people live in our county and I dare say it is not completely their fault that they were put in the county jail. Each has a professionally-diagnosed mental illness and today, most regretfully, the County ... (click for more)

Lennex Walker Wins A-AA State Pentathlon Again

MURFREESBORO -- The final Spring Fling is off to a roaring start for CSAS senior Lennex Walker. The most decorated track and field athlete ever for the Lady Patriots, Walker got the ball rolling with a victory in the Class A-AA Pentahlon at the Dean Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium Monday afternoon by winning three of the five events and finishing first with 3,306 points. Unicoi ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Reaches Class A/AA State Soccer Tournament

The setting was nothing new for the seven seniors on the Boyd-Buchanan boys’ soccer team, but this time the Bucs got to celebrate a different outcome.   Playing in their fourth consecutive Class A/AA state sectional, the Bucs put three years of heartbreak behind them by earning a 1-0 victory over Merrol Hyde and a trip to this week’s state tournament in Murfreesboro. ... (click for more)