ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- More than 300,000 SUEZ water customers will see a water rate hike in a new agreement between the water company and the State Public Service Commission, but the increase will not be as much as had been originally planned.
State regulators cut the proposed rate hike by reducing the amount the company can recoup for its $54 million investment in the failed Hudson River Water Project by $8.2 million.
SUEZ spokesman Bill Madden said the company had agreed to recoup the cost over 15 years at a reduced rate of interest set by the commission, which will lower the amount they are repaid.
The new water rates, which go into effect on Feb. 1, will increase resident's monthly water bills by 51 cents this year, $4.80 next year and $4.87 in the third year, Madden said.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the agreement didn't go far enough to protect residents.
"This is a dent in the costs," he said. "It's certainly not a victory for the ratepayers of Rockland County."
The state granted Suez a $4.87 million rate increase, $960,000 less than the water supplier had requested which translates into a total increase for customers of $122 over the next three years, he added.
"We continue to maintain that the people of Rockland should not have to pay expenses related to the failed water desalination plant," Day said. "The ratepayers in Rockland did nothing to deserve these costs."
Rockland County has a legal action pending that challenges the expenses and cites the failure of the PSC to protect consumers related to the failed desalination plant.
Also under the agreement, SUEZ agreed to spend more than $150 million over five years in infrastructure investments including a smart network that will increase the reliability and resiliency of the distribution system, help customers find leaks in their homes and enhance billing accuracy.
Other highlights include an enhanced conservation plan aimed to promote the reduction of both indoor and outdoor water use and establishes a rebate program for low-income customers.
In a statement, SUEZ officials re-emphasized the important roles that the County of Rockland, its municipalities and all its residents must play in preserving the area's' water supply.