Sen. Kissel Opposes Bill Which Could Increase Water Rates

April 25, 2013

(Article from the Waterbury Republican-American)

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday that could jack up water rates across the state to encourage conservation. The legislation requires the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to consider additional criteria when setting water rates for private companies. It would also apply to municipally owned water companies. The proposed considerations include demand projections that recognize conservation’s effects, metering and measures to provide timely price signals to consumers, multi-year rate plans, measures to reduce system water losses, and alternative rate designs that promote conservation. Senators voted 30-4 to approve the legislation. The measure moves to the House for possible final action in the legislature. The bill balances the state’s environmental needs and its water needs at a time when demand is increasing, said Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, Senate chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee.

The bill’s few opponents did not see it that way.

“I really believe you’re hurting the very people you think you’re helping,” said Sen. Robert Kane, R-Watertown. The legislature’s budget office reported the additional rate-setting considerations may result in increased rates to all ratepayers, including the state and municipalities. Duff maintained that there will be long-term savings and other benefits for consumers. However, he also acknowledged under questioning from Sen. Jason C. Welch, R-Bristol, that ratepayers who reduce consumption could end up paying more in the short term. “Certainly, that is possible,” Duff said. Kane said permitting water companies to charge ratepayers more under such circumstances is hypocritical. “We’re saying we want to conserve, we want you to use less water, but when you do that we are going to charge you more because we’re losing money because you’re conserving. It is amazing. It is absolutely amazing to me,” he said.

Kane, and Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, said this is another objectionable example of government driving up the cost of a product to discourage its use. Kissel questioned where it stops. “I would hate to see this policy go forward and then a week from now, or a month from now, or a year from now, somebody say, ‘You know what? Remember what we did with water. We want to do it with gasoline,” he said.