On Tuesday night at the Fairfield Town Hall, the state Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), held a public meeting to hear testimony on the proposed 23 percent water-rate increase by Aquarion Water Co. It was attended by about 150 people.
Despite the publicity, Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury and I were the only folks present from Westport. We both spoke in opposition to the huge price increase proposed. This increase would not only impact the town's financials, hydrant water, etc., but severely impact each water customer. The Aqarion company did not present any operational or service-improvement justification.
Aquarion was purchased by an Australian private-equity company in 2007, and since that time, water charges have increased 31 percent. If this additional price increase is accepted, prices will have increased 61 percent by 2016. Since the acquisition, Aquarion has sent $156 million in dividend payments to the Australian parent, and its dividend payout ratio has risen to 97 percent.
Unless we more actively participate in the public hearing process of PURA, Westport customers will most likely become victims of this company's abuse of its' monopoly status.
There are three public hearings scheduled for June 24, 25, and 26 at various locations. I urge you to attend. The locations and times are on the PURA web site.