Fayette County

Kentucky American Water wants a 24 percent rate increase for residential customers

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Water bills could be going up again this year for Kentucky American Water customers.

The utility company filed an application with the state Public Service Commission to raise its overall rate — including residential, commercial and fire hydrant rates — by 22 percent to generate more than $19.8 million annually.

For residential customers, the average customer would see a rate increase of 24 percent, or $7.56 a month, if the PSC approves the company’s request, according to documents filed with the commission. That means the average residential customer, who uses 3,869 gallons per month, would pay $39.62 a month, up from $32.06.

In a statement, the water company said it has spent more than $100 million on infrastructure upgrades and needs the rate increase to pay for them. The company provides water service in 14 counties in Central Kentucky, including Fayette County.

Commercial properties would see an increase of 28 percent, or about $45.90 each month. Customers in some areas, such as Eastern Rockcastle County, would see water rates decrease.

Kentucky American Water last filed for a rate increase in January 2016. The Public Service Commission agreed to roughly half the rate increase the water company had originally requested — or a 9.2 percent increase for most residential customers. That rate increase took effect 18 months ago.

This would be the sixth rate increase granted to the company since June 2007.

“Water systems around the country, including some here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are struggling due to deferred investments in aging waterlines, treatment plants, pumps and other facilities,” said Nick Rowe, president of Kentucky American Water. “Kentucky American Water, on the other hand, continues to make proactive investments in aging infrastructure that are necessary to provide quality, reliable water service to the customers we serve throughout the region.”

Some of the capital projects Kentucky American Water has undertaken include:

Replacement of 9.5 miles of aging water pipes in the region since the last rate increase took effect in 2016.

The Jacobson-Hays Booster Station pressure zone project, which helped enhance system pressure for approximately 10,000 customers in southeastern Fayette County.

Replacement of older, high-service pumps at the Kentucky River Station 1 water treatment facility in Lexington, the system’s largest treatment plant.

Extension of a water main and other improvement projects along Athens-Boonesboro Road in Fayette and Clark counties to increase water pressure and quality.

Kentucky American Water also purchased the former Eastern Rockcastle Water Association in January 2018.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who has been outspoken about past water rate increases, blasted the company Wednesday for increasing customer water bills yet again.

“It’s a real shame that Kentucky American Water raises rates on Lexington citizens, and then turns right around and uses that money to buy water utilities in other towns around Lexington,” Gray said. “A real shame.”

The Public Service Commission will ultimately decide if and by how much the water company can raise its rates. It typically takes between six months to a year for a final decision. The public will have an opportunity to comment before the commission makes a final decision.

Kentucky American Water serves Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Harrison, Jessamine, Nicholas, Scott, Woodford, Gallatin, Owen, Grant, Rockcastle and Jackson counties.

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