This did not get published.  I attended a meeting with regard to the increase and I followed the BS that was in the papers and I rebutted some of it in here as well The increase was for the second half of 2006 or begining of 2007.

    I agree with the DPUC’s decision to grant Birmingham Utilities only partial rate increase.  I feel that part of their requested increase is based on legitimate facts while the part that was denied is based on mismanagement and facts that underscore such.

   The simple fact that all costs are rising can not be avoided nor ignored. .  Overhead costs, not based on consumer water consumption, such as salaries and taxes will need to be spread over a dwindling consumption base or the company will run into the red.  Costs to extract, process and deliver a given amount of water are climbing as well.

  One cost in particular, I find upsetting.  As Birmingham Utilities upgrades is system, replacing century old pipes, the “value” of the system climbs, thus resulting in higher property taxes.  Such costs must and will be passed on to consumers.   Replacing the pipes guarantees that we’ll have a more dependable system, but it does not add to BU’s revenues.  A tax based on system capacity would be fairer to BU and it’s customers as it would be aimed at system growth and not penalize BU’s active commitment to reliable service.

     The other part of the increase is based on a set of facts that I am glad that the DPUC sees as items that should not be passed onto the customer.  BU president John Tomac states that many large companies have left the area leading to a reduction in consumption..  As a resident of The Valley for more than 10 years now and a former Latex Foam employee, Mr. Tomac seems to forget that Latex Foam has not been in BU service territory for more than 5 years now, a fact that should have been dealt with in 2003.  The loss of Latex Foam from Ansonia actually has a bigger impact on the Ansonia sewage treatment department as a good portion of the water used at Latex came from wells on or near the property. Because Latex used the public sewer system, the well water was metered for the purpose of sewage billing

    Both BU and Yankee gas complain that conservation has cut into their sales. Yet there are many areas in Ansonia and Derby where neither utility’s pipes do not go. Thus both have the ability to expand its customer base as to maintain overall consumption levels. 

    Behind the scenes, the utility industry is highly competitive.  Most people only see the Cable TV and Phone companies compete for high speed Internet connections.  Yankee Gas and United Illuminating each compete in The Valley for hot water heating, cooking and clothes drying customers.  Oil companies join the competition for The Valley’s furnaces.  In homes where BU does not supply the water, wells with electric pumps add to UI’s base consumption load.  Without a presence of a particular utility, homeowners have fewer options when purchasing appliances that best suits their needs. 

    By demanding a minimum revenue level from its customer base immediately, the management of BU is hurting itself in the long run.  New industries will not want to come to an area where conservation will be punished by high rate increases, thus BU will loose future business opportunities.  More of BU’s customers will choose to spend a little more money, investing in efficient appliances as to reduce future consumption costs. 

    What The Valley needs is cooperation between the local governments, developers and utility companies as to offer more choices to all homeowners and businesses.  Such cooperation would allow Birmingham Utilities and Yankee Gas to expand their service territories in a more cost effective manner while reducing demand on an already strained UI infrastructure and water table.