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Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water & Wastewater Utility Systems Issues Report
TALLAHASSEE – A report issued today by the Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water & Wastewater Utility Systems (Committee) makes recommendations to address many of the challenges facing investor-owned water and wastewater utilities, particularly small systems.
Established by the 2012 Legislature, the 18-member Committee was mandated to address five issues – economies of scale, low interest loans, tax incentives, purchase of existing systems, and resellers – in its report submitted today to the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House.
Committee members met a dozen times, including twice in areas affected by high water and wastewater rates to take public testimony. In addition to the mandated issues, the Committee addressed seven more issues of concern in the report: reserve fund, interim rates, rate case expense, quality of service, the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) used and useful rule, use of technology, and PSC policy and procedures.
Report recommendations, in part, include:
· To ensure water quality standards are met, the committee recommends a statutory change to allow PSC penalties for not meeting the Department of Environmental Protection’s secondary water and wastewater operational requirements.
· To reduce rate case expense, the committee recommends a statutory change to limit consultant and attorney’s fees, in staff-assisted rate cases, and also recommends eliminating recovery of rate case expense from more than one case at time by requiring the utility to forfeit any unrecovered rate case expense from a prior rate case.
· To take advantage of quantity discounts for equipment and materials, the report recommends authorizing IOUs to use state purchasing contracts and developing an online new or used equipment exchange.
· To attract capital for system improvements, the report recommends a legislative change to open the State Revolving Fund (SRF) to all IOUs, a streamlined SRF process, and a PSC rule change to allow pass-through of loan service fees.
In its report, the Committee made recommendations for consideration by the Legislature, certain state agencies, and industry associations.
Chaired by PSC Commissioner Julie I. Brown, Committee members represent the Florida Legislature, state agencies, state and local governments, and investor-owned water utilities and their customers.
To read the entire report or for more information, visit www.FloridaWaterStudy.com.