Contact: Dave Steuber
May 7, 2012
NORWALK—Months after a 25 percent hike in water rates by South Norwalk Electric and Water (SNEW), state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) announced he reached an agreement with the district resulting in changes to the rate policy that will increase transparency and allow for more public participation in the process of setting rates.
After last summer’s rate increase, Sen. Duff vowed to introduce legislation requiring SNEW to go before the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority for a public hearing and decision if seeking a 10 percent rate increase or more.
Subsequently, SNEW developed a new policy to improve communication with ratepayers about rate changes for water and electricity. That policy was approved by SNEW commissioners in January.
Most recently, Sen. Duff recommended revisions to the SNEW rate policy that will better inform the public of potential rate increases and give them an avenue to voice opinions. The revised policy would require a legal notice about the pending rate change to be e-mailed to ratepayers and included as an insert in their bill. SNEW also must provide a phone number for customers to call to obtain more information about proposed rate increases. It also would mandate that no decisions shall be made until seven days after a public hearing on the matter.
The Second Taxing District Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the changes at its May 15 meeting. In light of the agreement with the district, Sen. Duff decided to withdraw the legislation after an agreement was reached to strengthen the rules.
“In these times when families are struggling to make ends meet, an increase in the water or electric bill can pose a real hardship,” Sen. Duff said. “Residents shouldn’t be shocked when they open their utility bill. The changes I have proposed would empower residents to have a voice in discussions about proposed rate hikes and facilitate more open communication between ratepayers and the utility.”
“These revisions will enhance the existing public notification policy for rate changes and will go far to strengthen the relationship SNEW has with its customers,” said John Hiscock, general manager for SNEW. “The district agrees with the suggestions by Sen. Duff and looks forward to implementing new communication policies to benefit customers and the community.”
Created in 1913, Norwalk’s Second Taxing District owns and independently operates South Norwalk Electric and Water, a water and electric utility. The utility serves some 9,000 water customers in South Norwalk, East Norwalk, West Norwalk, Rowayton, Silvermine and Wilton.
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