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PUCN to hear comments on Great Basin Water rate hike Tuesday
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PUCN to hear comments on Great Basin Water rate hike Tuesday

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Great Basin Water Co. logo

SPRING CREEK – Great Basin Water Co. is proposing a 7.4% rate hike for Spring Creek customers, which could be implemented by the end of the year if approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

Letters mailed out by GBWC explained the request for the rate hike, along with changes in water and sewer service charges.

“While we understand there is never a good time to increase rates, this rate is based on the actual and complete cost of providing safe and reliable water and wastewater services,” GBWC stated.

Water customers could see bills for residential and multi-residential consumers that currently average $64.74 raised to $69.28 per month, an increase of $4.54 per month.

Residential and multi-residential sewer customers whose average bill runs $52.12 could see it raised to $55.41, which is an increase of $3.29 per month.

According to a press release from the PUCN, GBWC’s overall water division annual revenue requirement would increase by $317,160, or approximately 7.4 percent. GBWC proposes to increase the monthly basic service charge for water service by 5.8 percent in all rate classes.

The company explained that the Integrated Resource Plan must be filed with the PUCN every three years. Within the IRP is a 20-year capital improvement plan and a short-term three-year plan. The next IRP is scheduled to be filed in 2021.

“During this process, GBWC encourages customer input on what projects they deem of greatest importance to their level of service,” the company stated in its letter.

The company went on to explain this year’s rate request was intended to “recoup the cost of capital improvement projects, which, for in large part, have already been considered as necessary by the PUCN in an IRP proceeding in order to provide customers with safe and reliable utility service.”

Consumer sessions conducted by the PUCN for public input on utilities, such as water, electricity, natural gas and broadband, usually have been scheduled in-person at locations in Spring Creek or Elko. But due to the pandemic and compliances with state emergency directives, the session on Oct. 27 will be via teleconference, with customers encouraged to participate through written comments submitted via email or regular mail for docket 20-07017.

The PUCN’s consumer session starts at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27. Call 1-872-239-8405 and enter the access code 314 277 52# to join the teleconference.

PUCN hearings on the docket are scheduled to begin Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. in Carson City.

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Among the parties involved at the December hearing will be Spring Creek Association, which filed a motion to intervene on the rate case and will be represented by the HOA’s legal team.

“We will address issues and concerns for this case,” said Jessie Bahr, SCA president and general manager. “We will continue our work as an association to ensure we protect the best interests of our residents to the best of our ability.”

Bahr said customers are encouraged to join the consumer session call or file a complaint with the PUCN by Dec. 9, which will be entered into the docket’s record.

This week the SCA sent out an email to residents urging them to participate in the session, as the water company must answer their questions.

“GBWC must respond to the comments made at the consumer session. Thus, if anyone has complaints regarding costs, ghost reading, water bills, service interruption, time to respond/fix the issue, etc., it is advantageous for those members to attend the session and speak up.”

The company addressed reasons for the rate increase in its customer letter, pointing to 40-year-old piping and wells, and other aging assets.

“Much of the system which is being upgraded and/or replaced was built in the 1970s,” GBWC stated. “Over the past three years, we have continued to make investments that affect the quality and reliability of your water service, including significant expenditures.”

Some of the company’s more expensive improvements included backup generator offices for four wells and four well rehabilitations.

“In total, we are seeking $4 million in investments to our infrastructure, which we have put into service to benefit your water delivery, quality and safety,” the company said.

Although GBWC filed to increase water bills by a specific rate, the PUCN will determine the case and make a final ruling.

“The PUCN closely scrutinizes when and how much a utility company can adjust their rates,” the company wrote. “The PUCN requires that rates be vetted by them every three years.”

GBWC said they realized the pandemic was not a “good time for a rate increase.” They have implemented cost-saving technologies such as automated meter reading, backup generators, and a smartphone payment app.

Payment options for customers financially impacted by COVID-19 are in effect. GBWC is also continuing water and sewer service for those unable to pay in full by the due date.

“As a result of COVID-19, and until some undetermined point in the future, GBWC has reconnected all customers disconnected for non-payment, suspended all future disconnects, and has ceased collecting and billing late payment charges.”

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Courts, K-12 schools & Spring Creek reporter

Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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