Recently, we urged residents opposed to a proposed rate increase requested by the private utility Tega Cay Water Service to let officials know how they feel. Subsequent news stories about the proposal have resulted in calls and emails to the Fort Mill Times regarding the best way to be heard.
TCWS has long been the target of dissatisfied customers who complain about the quality of the water they pay for and what some have described as subpar customer service. The Yiddish word for such a maligned utility seeking a rate increase is chutzpah. If you’re not familiar with the word, Google it. .
And it’s no small increase the utility seeks. TCWS is asking the S.C. Public Service Commission for permission to increase residential water rates by 18.54 percent and residential wastewater by 66.9 percent, for a combined 43.98 percent jump. The utility says it needs to raise rates to recoup the cost of a $2 million investment to improve or replace pumps, control panels, motors and other equipment as well as remodeling four sewer lift stations.
According to the company, the average Tega Cay home will see a difference of “less than a penny per gallon” at the faucet. The average water bill will be about $42 a month, the average wastewater bill about $65 per month.
That may not seem like a lot, but for residents struggling to make ends meet during tough economic times, it puts another unwelcome dent in the budget. Factor in gasoline prices and an expected rise in food prices related to drought in grain-producing states and it adds up to more hardship at the worst possible time.
It wouldn’t be as odious if TCWS was better regarded by its customers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It’s like an office worker getting turned down for a promotion and then asking for a salary bump just the same.
The only good news here is that the increase isn’t a given. Although the Public Service Commission has approved rate increases in the past despite customers’ objections, the public’s comments are taken into consideration before a decision is made.
We also urge residents to attend a community forum set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Glennon Center.
For information on how to provide comments, visit dms.psc.sc.gov and search Tega Cay Water Service under the “Docket Search” tab. The Reference Docket Number is 2012-177-WS.
If you oppose this proposed rate increase, now is the time to be heard.