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No more minimum charge? What it could mean for customers

Among the sewer rate changes being discussed at our public meetings is our proposed elimination of our minimum charge, a move made to address the most common concern from our customers. Here’s a simple explanation and an example of how some of our users will benefit most.

One of our most common customer concerns is the minimum charge for 1 MCF (1,000 cubic feet of water, or 7,480 gallons, currently about $44.75 in Cleveland and $48 in the suburbs) per quarter: “But I don’t use that much water. Why do I have to pay for what I’m not using?” For years, the minimum consumption charge has ensured stable funding for a variety of ongoing and unpredictable costs we face—fuel, energy, and chemicals, for example—and for massive construction projects.

But the proposed 2012-2016 rate schedule eliminates the minimum charge and replaces it with a base fee for all customers ($5.85/quarter in 2012).

Let’s look at an example. Under the current rate structure, a suburban customer in 2012 using half an MCF per quarter would be required to pay the 1 MCF minimum: $52. Under the proposed plan, the customer would pay the new $5.85 base charge, plus the actual consumption (half an MCF, or $26) for a total of $31.85. The savings would be even greater for Homestead or affordability-program-eligible customers.

The proposed structure provides the greatest benefit to small users.

Four rate-information public meetings remain on our schedule through May. Sewer District Trustees are expected to vote this summer on the final 2012-2016 rates and rate structure.

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