Water company to seek rate increase

By Jack King

New Mexico American Water has asked the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to grant it a rate increase that would mean a 12 percent increase for an average residential user, said Kathy Wright, a company vice president.
The increase must be approved by a majority vote of the commission and is not expected to go into effect until at least March 2004, Wright said.
“The actual impact on consumers varies depending on consumption and meter size. For an average residential Clovis customer using 10,000 gallons of water from a 5/8-inch meter, this means an increase from $35.46 to $39.79, a 12.21 percent increase,” said Wright.
“During this same period — from December 1998 to April 2003 — the latest period for which figures are available, the increase in the Consumer Price Index has been 10.9 percent.”
Wright said this is New Mexico American Water’s first general rate increase in almost five years.
“This increase reflects a number of changes in our system, rehabbing and replacing aging wells and other infrastructure, and complying with stricter water quality regulations and security measures. We’re pleased we have been able to wait this long between rate increases and pleased the average amount is relatively low,” she said.
Wright said that, since May 2002, Clovis residential customers have paid an average monthly surcharge of about $1.50 to pay for the New Mexico American’s acquisition of land and water rights to ensure continuing service. The proposed rate increase would incorporate the surcharge, she said.
The Public Regulation Commission will hold public meetings and conduct a formal public hearing to discuss the proposed rate increase. Citizens can formally intervene in the proceedings by contacting the Public Regulation Commission or can attend the public hearings and present comments, said hearings examiner Anthony Medeiros.
No dates have been set for the hearings pending a conference on July 25. Once dates have been set, New Mexico American Water Company will be required to publish a legal notice, Medeiros said.