Judge recommends Commission adopt wastewater settlement

Date Modified: Thu, 01/21/2016 - 7:11am

The Administrative Law Judge has issued a Recommended Opinion and Order (ROO) to the Arizona Corporation Commission to adopt a wastewater rate case settlement at their Dec. 18 open meeting. The settlement was approved by the Anthem Community Council at their Nov. 19 meeting, as well as the other four EPCOR wastewater districts involved in the case.

Exceptions to the settlement must be submitted to the Commission by Dec. 11; however, none are expected on behalf of the Anthem Community Council, according to Utilities Panel chairman Roger Willis. The Judge made no deviations from the settlement as agreed to by the Board of Directors.

The settlement agreement was brought to the table by the Residential Utilities Consumer Office (RUCO) in November's evidentiary hearings. If voted into effect by the Commission, the settlement will result in a rate compromise for Anthem. Rates for wastewater service in Anthem would still go down in 2015, but less than the rates resulting from the 2012 decision to deconsolidate the Anthem and Agua Fria wastewater districts. View the full settlement agreement.

What does this settlement mean for ratepayers?

  • The monthly bill for Anthem Wastewater District residential customers will be a monthly minimum rate of $31.18 with a volumetric rate of $4.1649, which is a reduction of $2.10 from current rates (Step 2) for average usage. The capped total rate will be $60.33.
  • The monthly bill for Agua Fria Wastewater District residential customers will be a flat rate of $71.16, which is a reduction of $35.05 from current rates (Step 2) for average usage.
  • The monthly bill for Sun City Wastewater District residential customers will be a flat rate of $22.11, which is an increase of $4.
  • The monthly bill for Sun City West Wastewater District residential customers will be a flat rate of $32.46, which is an increase of $1.
  • The monthly bill for Mohave Wastewater District residential customers will be a flat rate of $55.55, which is a reduction of $1.
  • Rates for non-residential classes of customers will remain at current levels.*

At this time, commercial customers will remain at the current Step 2 rates, despite ACC CEO Jenna Kollings appealing on behalf of the business community to lower commercial rates as part of the settlement agreement.

History of the case

In 2012, the Arizona Corporation Commission ordered the deconsolidation of the Anthem and Agua Fria wastewater districts effective January 2013. Wastewater rate relief was to be implemented in three Steps in January of 2013, 2014 and 2015. The three Steps combined would in 2015 result in an increase of about $47/month for Agua Fria and a decrease of about $19/month for Anthem from the previously consolidated rate (per 7,000 gallons of water usage).

Early this year, with the third Step soon to be implemented, Agua Fria ratepayers petitioned the Arizona Corporation Commission for relief of their climbing rates.  The Arizona Corporation Commission directed EPCOR to present a number of scenarios that would allow relief to Agua Fria, which include:

  1. Full consolidation of all five of EPCOR’s districts (Agua Fria, Anthem, Mohave, Sun City and Sun City West);
  2. Reconsolidation of Anthem and Agua Fria (which Anthem has objected to from the outset, thus resulting in a petition and letter writing campaign to the Corporation Commission); and
  3. Full deconsolidation of the three separate systems within the Agua Fria district.

Over the past three months, the parties to this case have submitted testimony regarding these alternatives.

As part of the settlement, EPCOR must file a new case with updated financial/rate data by Sept. 30, 2015.

Read further history and supporting documents.