After months of public debate, the Metropolitan District Commission has opted to move forward with a plan to offer a discount to its biggest customers.
Just four commissioners voted against the plan the CEO of the MDC hopes will help the company make more money, and says could mean lower rates for everyone else.
Many customers have been against this plan all along, saying it’s a bad move from a utility company that keeps asking them to pay more.
“It’s disgraceful that a corporation should not get a sweetheart deal, especially one that doesn’t need it especially when the rest of us are going to end up paying the bill,” said Judy Allen from West Hartford.
The commission overwhelming voted a 20 percent rate discount for customers using more than 600,000 gallons of water. Right now, bottled water company Niagara is the MDC’s only qualifying ratepayer. Throughout the process, the MDC has said incentivizing big customers to buy more water will mean bigger revenues to cover rising costs, and possibly allow them to lower rates.
“It is used to reduce the overall budget of the MDC which in turn reduces the water rate for everyone,” MDC CEO Scott Jellison said.
Seventeen commissioners voted in favor of the plan.
Before the vote, a flurry of the utility’s customers and some lawmakers made one last push to stop the proposal.
Jellison said the utility understands the frustrations of customers, but they have to find a way to cover their bills, and incentivizing the biggest customer to spend more could mitigate future increases for everyone else.
“We just don’t know if Niagara is going to use more water. What we know is we have a rate structure, if they don’t use it, there’s no harm no foul. There’s no impact whatsoever to our customers,” Jellison said.
What’s not as cut and dry is how soon other customers could see a rare decrease in rates if Niagara or anyone else starts using more money. If the MDC was to see significantly higher revenue as a result of the discount, the commission would need to meet again to discuss a mid-year rate change. A more likely scenario would be building in a lower rate for a future budget year