Caroline MacGregor Published

West Virginia American Water Seeks Rate Increase For Customers

Heavy equipment and large pipes against a blue sky backdrop with the sun shining.
West Virginia American Water Company says a rate increase is needed to cover $340 million in upgrades to water and wastewater systems.
romaset/Adobe Stock

West Virginia’s Public Service Commission Tuesday will hear a request from West Virginia American Water Company to raise water rates. 

Despite overwhelming public disapproval during a public hearing last month, the utility wants the PSC to approve a rate increase of slightly more than $41 million. That equates to a nearly 22.5 percent increase in monthly bills for customers.

Residential customers using 3,000 gallons a month would see an increase of about $19. The average commercial customer using 16,000 gallons per month would see an increase of $101.08. 

The water company said the increase is needed to cover $340 million in upgrades to water and wastewater systems. Further upgrades are planned in 2024.

Charleston Mayor Amy Schuler Goodwin and members of the city council are opposed to the rate increase. They said the rate increase should be scrapped and cited West Side residents who went weeks without service after water flooded gas lines and shut down their gas service.

In a letter to the Public Service Commission, the mayor and city council requested the proposed rate increases be rejected, or at minimum, delayed until April 1, 2024 or later.

“During a time when our families on the West Side are struggling, it is imperative we do everything we can to lessen the burden,” Goodwin said. “As utility rates continue to rise, it becomes more difficult for our families to make ends meet. We strongly urge the PSC to consider our request – especially as we approach winter and the holiday season.”

Charleston City Council Member Emmett Pepper said it is critical that families be provided some relief during a difficult time. 

“Not only are our West Side families faced with the potential financial burden of increased water and gas rates, but they are also now going to be faced with higher electric bills due to the reliance on electric heaters during this gas outage,” Pepper said. 

The letter urged the PSC to consider taking further action to empower residents to “better control their energy bills through increased energy efficiency programs for gas and electric customers.” 

The PSC hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the PSC headquarters at 201 Brooks Street.