Liberty Utilities is seeking to increase water rates for Nassau...

Liberty Utilities is seeking to increase water rates for Nassau customers in its service areas by a cumulative 34.2% starting next year, according to a state filing Friday. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Liberty Utilities is seeking to increase water rates for Nassau customers in its service areas by a cumulative 34.2% starting next year, according to a state filing Friday.

The increase, if approved following a state Department of Public Service review, would increase average monthly residential water bills by $18.32 for customers in its Lynbrook-area (also known as service area 1), $15.74 for Merrick customers, and $7.37 for Sea Cliff customers.

The hikes represent a 39% increase for Lynbrook, 42% for Merrick and 13% for Sea Cliff.

In the filing, the company cited “necessary plant investments, high tax burdens, the installation of advanced metering infrastructure, proposed low-income and arrearage  management programs, and a fee-free program for electronic payment of Liberty NYW invoices.”

The hike, after years of contentious relations with Liberty’s predecessor New York American Water over high bills, isn’t sitting well with customers and officials.

Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, in a statement, said he was “outraged.”

“If approved, the rate increase will allow Liberty to pad the value of the company by foisting this outrageous increase on its customers who are already overpaying for water,” he said. “I, along with the newly formed South Nassau Water Authority, urge the Public Service Commission to reject this unconscionable rate increase.”

"It absolutely stinks," said David Denenberg, co-director of LI Clean Air, Water and Soil, a watchdog group. "This should remind every resident that a public acquisition is a necessity and the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County officials have dropped the ball on a public takeover that would end this insanity." 

East Massapequa and Sea Cliff areas are working on public takeovers of portions of the Liberty water districts. 

It’s the company’s first formal rate filing since it bought New York American Water for $608 million in 2022, and represents an effort by the company to raise $39.7 million in new revenue over the year starting April 1, 2024.

The company cited a “significant amount of non-growth capital investments,” for the increase. The proposal, it said, allows for “reliability, improved water quality and customer satisfaction, and further supports stable operations, compliance, reduction in leaks and avoids the cost of replacing and maintaining aging infrastructure.”

Liberty said its overall plan includes investing around $116 million in capital projects, including replacement of water mains, treatment facilities, well upgrades and advanced metering installations.

The company is also using the increase to recover costs tied to the creation of 17 new local jobs in Liberty’s Merrick office. It will also fund a low-income bill-credit and arrears management programs, among other things, Liberty said in a letter with its rate filing.

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