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PSC: POTABLE WATER RATE INVESTIGATION IS NEXT

June 24, 2003 – Despite their brief protests, Water and Power Authority officials were told during a Public Services Commission meeting on Tuesday that a rate investigation into the utility's potable water operations will proceed. The investigation is targeted to begin in July, with June 2004 the target date for the PSC's decision.
The last rate investigation for potable water service was done about 10 years ago.
WAPA told the PSC members that the authority does not see the need to go forward with the investigation at this time. "WAPA needs to do some internal assessments before it can commit to this schedule," Samuel Hall, counsel for the utility, said.
Glenn Rothgeb, WAPA assistant executive director, also gave commissioners an update on the territory street lighting. The PSC had ordered WAPA and the Public Works Department to begin work on repairing and installing the territory's streetlights, especially those on Veterans Drive on St. Thomas and Melvin Evans Highway on St. Croix, by May 8.
Rothgeb said the restoration on St. Thomas has been "basically completed" and work has begun on Melvin Evans Highway, where "we're just beginning the restoration."
Although the Legislature and the governor transferred responsibility for lighting the territory's streets to WAPA from Public Works in January of 2002, Public Works is still responsible for the lights on Veterans Drive and along Evans Highway because they are federally funded highways.
At the April PSC meeting, WAPA agreed to assist Public Works in this regard by hiring a contractor to carry out the repairs and installation and by purchasing the materials needed.
In other action, the commission told the general manager of the territory's two Innovative Cable TV companies, Adrian LaBennett, that he needs to address the barrage of consumer complaints that have been coming in to the PSC.
Commission member Alric Simmonds told LaBennett that consumers have been complaining of calls not getting through and long waiting periods for repairs and installation.
"We do not want to micromanage you," Valencio Jackson, commission chair, said. "What we do want is to let you know that you have some problems, and we want them fixed."
Commission member Verne David asked that LaBennett submit monthly reports to the commission so that it can assess the level of service to cable TV consumers.
The PSC scheduled a meeting on July 18 to hear arguments from Innovative Telephone and from attorney Maria Tankenson Hodge regarding a petition she filed for reconsideration of the PSC's April decision to keep Innovative's rate of return at 11.5 percent.
The commission will also address Innovative's rate increase request at the July meeting.
PSC members present on Tuesday were Jerris Browne, David, Jackson, Desmond Maynard, Simmonds and Alecia Wells. The two non-voting members, Sens. Luther Renee and Shawn-Michael Malone, were absent.

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