Katie Hicks: Welcome support

January 30, 2014 

On Jan. 7, Attorney General Roy Cooper intervened in Aqua North Carolina’s request to the N.C. Utilities Commission for a 19.5 percent rate increase. The Attorney General’s action is refreshing in a state where the “business-as-usual” approach is to prioritize industry’s wishes over the public interest.

Like electric and telephone utilities, privately owned water and sewer companies are monopolies, and their customers depend on state regulators to enforce fair rates and adequate service. Aqua North Carolina, a subsidiary of the profitable water giant Aqua America, provides water and sewer service to hundreds of thousands in our state, who have no say in who provides their water and no alternative if they’re dissatisfied. It’s especially important for regulators to serve as a check on monopolistic companies and take customer concerns seriously.

Although part of its duty is to “provide fair regulation of public utilities in the interest of the public,” the Utilities Commission has granted Aqua NC rate hikes twice in the past five years. The company’s residential water rates are 68 percent higher than the average for other public and private water providers in the state.

No matter how the commission rules on Aqua NC’s rate hike request, we applaud the Attorney General’s office for stepping in.

Katie Hicks

Clean Water for North Carolina

Asheville

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