CLS was appointed by the Philadelphia Water, Sewer, and Storm Water Rate Board to serve as Public Advocate in the Philadelphia Water Department’s 2021 rate increase proceeding. The Water Department proposed to increase an average household’s monthly bill from $66.73 to $74.47 in September 2021 and to $78.45 in September 2022. The significant and consistent public opposition to the rate increase motivated us, and our team of utility experts, to advocate zealously against raising water rates and to push for improvements in policies and practices that can help customers continue to access affordable water service.
We are pleased to announce that the Water Department and the Public Advocate have negotiated a proposed settlement that minimizes and delays the majority of the increase in water rates. We believe this settlement is in the public interest because it significantly reduces the Department’s rate request while providing customer service enhancements. If the settlement is approved, the water rates will go up by a much smaller amount than initially requested. The average household’s monthly bill will increase from $66.73 to $69.15 in September 2021 and may increase to $73.58 in September 2022.
One concern we heard from customers is that the Water Department doesn’t need an increase because of the recently available stimulus funding. We addressed that concern in the proposed settlement by creating a new process by which the rate increase can be reduced based upon federal stimulus funding and the financial performance of the Water Department.
Finally, we negotiated heavily for improvements to customer service and operating policies to increase access to the Tiered Assistance Program (TAP), promote language access rights, improve tenant bill access, and protect customers during the pandemic.