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Sea Cliff customers to see drop in water bills, state agency says

The Public Service Commission said steps taken by New York American Water to correct an accounting mistake would reduce cost for about 4,300 ratepayers.

A state regulatory agency released new information Thursday that shows the average New York American Water residential customer in the Sea Cliff Water District will pay 34 percent and 12 percent less for service than initially projected for the four-year rate increase.

The Public Service Commission said steps the company took to correct an accounting mistake found earlier this month would lead to lower bills for about 4,300 ratepayers. In May, the state panel had approved the increases based on the incorrect data provided by the utility.

A customer who uses 8,000 gallons a month, which the company deems average, would see a reduction of 34 percent in years one and two of the rate increase, and 12 percent in years three and four, according the commission.

The average customer’s bills will be reduced:

  • from $109.71 to $72.05 (Jan. 1, 2018-March 31, 2018)
  • from $112.40 to $74.65 (April 1, 2018-March 31, 2019)
  • from 89.68 to $78.65 (April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020)
  • from $94.46 to $83.07 (April 1, 2020-March 31, 2021)
  • The accounting error lead to the private utility’s properties — for pipes, water towers and other infrastructure — being overtaxed by $1.7 million from 2013 to 2017, according to the commission. The panel learned of the error on Dec. 7, but only made it public on Wednesday.
  • The commission said it had launched an investigation into New York America’s failure to “disclose accurate property value assessments” to the panel before it approved the company’s rate increase.
  • In the months after the commission approved the rate increase, New York American customers in Nassau County saw their bills rise. But those hit hardest were in the Sea Cliff Water District, where some customers said their bills more than doubled.
  • The rate hike lead to protests, calling for a public takeover of the private company, which is a subsidiary of New Jersey-based American Water, and spawned two lawsuits.
  • One of those lawsuits was filed by the Village of Sea Cliff, whose 5,000 residents are New York American customers.
  • Bruce Kennedy, Sea Cliff administrator, said the village has filed suit against the commission and New York American, seeking to roll back the rate increase and reopen the case.
  • “Being that the PSC has acknowledged at least part of our allegations are accurate, I don’t know how a hearing would not be granted,” Kennedy said Thursday.

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