PEORIA — An Illinois American Water rate hike that took effect in Peoria at the beginning of the year may face a challenge before the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The Citizens Utility Board, a not-for-profit organization created by statute to represent the interests of residential utility customers in Illinois, has petitioned the ICC for a rehearing on rates approved in December.
"We think we have a strong case and we're going to do everything we can to reduce the rate hike as much as possible," said Jim Chilsen, director of communications for CUB. "We think the company got an exorbitant return on equity."
The ICC has 20 days to rule on the petition for a rehearing, which was filed Thursday. Illinois American customers can add their name to the petition online at cubillinois.org.
Illinois American originally requested a $49.5 million increase across the company's Land of Lincoln service areas, but the ICC approved a reduced rate hike. A $35.3 million rate hike was approved instead. The Citizens Utility Board recommended the hike be reduced to $16.5 million.
The rate approved by the ICC amounted to a $3.54 per month increase for Peoria customers, based on typical water usage of about 4,500 gallons per month, bringing the total monthly charge to $46.38 — excluding city taxes and fees. The 8-plus percent increase is less than half of the 18 percent the company initially sought.
Illinois American also requested a rate hike for the separate Pekin service territory, but the rate approved by the ICC actually resulted in a decrease in monthly bills for residents. Based on typical water usage, residential customers in that territory will see monthly bills fall by 24 cents.
Illinois American had requested the rate hikes to cover the costs of infrastructure improvements made from 2013 through the end of 2017, including water main replacements, electrical upgrades at the Peoria treatment facility and a new booster station in Pekin.
Matt Buedel is the Journal Star business reporter. He can be reached at 686-3154 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.