Monday, residents opposed to a proposed rate increase requested by the private utility Tega Cay Water Service were invited to a public hearing to air their views. The hearing took place past press time, but in the days leading up to it, it was apparent that hundred of angry customers were planning to pack the audience.
Whether or not you were there, if you are one of the dissatisfied Tega Cay residents protesting the proposed increase, keep the pressure up.
TCWS has long been the target of customers who complain about the quality of the water they pay for and subpar customer service. Yet, 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. With ever higher food and fuel costs and, now, the looming federal financial crisis that could mean dramatically more withholding from paychecks, 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 register their objections. Visit dms.psc.sc.gov and search Tega Cay Water Service under the “Docket Search” tab. The Reference Docket Number is 2012-177-WS.