In yet another setback for the mega utility company, an administrative law judge with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has ordered a stay on Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater’s application to purchase the Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority (DELCORA).
In early September, the three county commissioners of Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, voted down a $1.1 billion bid from Aqua Pennsylvania to buy their sewer system. This response to an outpouring of citizen concern about what would have been the largest privatization of a public wastewater system in the country illuminates a larger story — both of the encroachment of privatization and the potential for victories when citizens mobilize around its costs.
Residents are uniting across political lines to battle corporations attempting to privatize their water systems.
Big water companies like American Water, Aqua America, and, in the case of Towamencin, the Florida-based NextEra have been buying up water and wastewater systems in Pennsylvania, after legislation passed there that allows municipalities to sell public utilities more easily.
But in Towamencin and other towns of varying sizes, demographics, and political leanings, they’re meeting unexpected resistance.
Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority is thinking about selling its sewer system for a little more than $1 billion, but residents are concerned about rates going up.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers are weighing legislation that would make it easier for private water companies to target municipal authorities for acquisition, purchases that new research shows can lead to higher bills for consumers.
It would require public water systems with more than 750 customers to develop and give to the state an asset management plan that includes a schedule for identifying and replacing infrastructure like old pipes and meters, as well as the estimated cost of such projects and the projected rate increases needed to afford them.
A controversial proposal for a multimillion-dollar, four-decade sewer deal between the city and a private equity firm has come to an end — although the possibility of a larger legal dispute over the matter looms.
City Council voted this week to rescind its authorization for a concession of the Pleasantville sewer system to Bernhard Capital Partners.
Local officials raised concern and had a negative reaction to Aqua Pennsylvania’s proposed $1.1 billion purchase of the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority’s sanitary sewer system that serves 75,000 customers.
Based on Aqua Pennsylvania’s track record of raising rates and the fact their rates already start higher than the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority’s rates, there is widespread concern the utility with dramatically increase rates within years of a sale closing.
The Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority (BCWSA) has scheduled “open house” meetings on Tuesday in Perkasie and in Newtown to hear public sentiment on its proposed $1.1 billion sale of the county’s sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania.
BCWSA’s board voted 3-1 on July 13 to grant Aqua Pennsylvania the exclusive right to negotiate a sales agreement for the county’s public sewer system, which serves about 75,000 households in the Philadelphia suburbs. After debt and expenses are paid down, the sale would net the county about $1 billion, though it could mean substantially higher sewer rates for customers in the future.
As part of the sale, Aqua could continue to increase rates by as much as 51 percent, with the utility commission’s approval, according to the agreement between Aqua and New Garden Township. Now, Aqua has set its sights on buying out the Chester Water Authority, the utility that serves Woodacre’s neighborhood with drinking water, which would raise her bills even more.
A half-million Aqua Pennsylvania water and wastewater customers are about to experience the impact of rising infrastructure costs.
Rates for 440,000 Aqua water customers are set to go up about 10% this week, according to an order posted Monday by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Rates for Aqua’s 40,000 wastewater customers will go up 51% or more.
The precise impact on Aqua customers is not known because the Bryn Mawr utility, a subsidiary of Essential Utilities Inc., has not yet filed its formal tariff that spells out new charges for various rate zones across Pennsylvania. The new rates could go into effect as early as Thursday.