Public Service Commission approves a surcharge for West Virginia American Water

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Public Service Commission of West Virginia has approved a surcharge for West Virginia American Water customers that will fund system-wide infrastructure improvements.

A hand reaches up to a water faucet as water pours out
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The order entered Friday approved an agreement made in November between the utility and the commission’s Consumer Advocate Division. It allows West Virginia American Water to add a 5.98% surcharge on monthly water bills. That equals about $3.63 for the average residential customer, the utility said in a statement. For most customers, the surcharge will be prorated on their first 2023 bill.

The money will fund $48.7 million in upgrades that the utility plans to make in 2023. That amount includes $31 million to replace or upgrade more than 16 miles of water mains; $6.4 million to replace service lines and fire hydrants; and $9.3 million to replace water meters. Another $2 million will be spent upgrading troubled water systems the utility is acquiring.

The surcharge was approved through West Virginia’s Distribution System Improvement Charge program and will allow the utility to more quickly recover the costs for infrastructure investments deemed to be in the public interest.

The purpose of the charge is to “address the national challenge of aging water infrastructure by directing additional investment to areas where improvements are most needed,” Robert Burton, president of West Virginia American Water, said in a news release. “All parties involved in the agreement acknowledged the accelerated investments we’ve made since incorporating this surcharge in 2017 and recognize that this investment is a significant priority in the best interest of customers.”