Local Governments Intervening in Illinois American Water’s Rate Increase Application | Policy

URBANA – Local governments are lining up to challenge Illinois American Water’s request for a rate increase.

The utility filed a rate change application Feb. 10 with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which is currently undergoing an 11-month review process.

If approved, a rate increase would take effect next year, which could increase the average residential water user’s monthly bill by an additional $6 to $14 per month.

Urbana City Council is poised to take action Monday on a resolution that would authorize Mayor Diane Marlin to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Champaign, Philo, St. Joseph, Savoy and South Beloit to intervene in the case of price increases.

Savoy Village President John Brown has already signed on behalf of the village, saying Savoy has been involved in past efforts to fight rate increases, and that the money spent on legal fees is more than offset by the savings made by customers.

The agreement asks each participating government to share legal costs of up to $32,000 to intervene in the case based on their population.

Urbana’s share would be around $8,196.

Champaign Assistant City Attorney Tom Yu said the Champaign City Council previously approved a policy in which the legal department is pre-approved to intervene in cases affecting rates for city residents.

“We have done this historically whenever they have offered water rate increases,” he said.

Illinois American Water said its last general rate change was in 2017 and is requesting the current rate increase to cover the cost of more than $1.1 billion in water and wastewater system upgrades.

Customers in the company’s Central Water residential service area – which includes Champaign, Urbana, Savoy, Bondville, Fisher, Pesotum, Sadorus, St. Joseph and Sidney – would see a 19% increase on a monthly bill for 3,500 gallons of water usage – from $50.36 to $59.95, the company said.

Customers using approximately 2,000 gallons of water per month would see their bills increase by 11.7%, from $40.49 to $45.22 per month.

And heavy users of 10,000 gallons of water per month would see a monthly increase of $93.15 to $123.78.