RATE APPEAL UPDATE - NOTICE REGARDING REFUNDS AND SURCHARGES
December 21, 2021
On the monthly bill from Bear Creek Special Utility District you will see along with the regular monthly charges there is a surcharge and a refund that was not reflected in previous bills. The surcharge and refund were ordered by the Public Utility Commission ("PUC") in the appeal of rates adopted by Bear Creek in October 2018. That rate appeal was brought by a group of customers represented by Deborah Fato (current board member) and Michaelangelo Dillon in March 2019, and it concluded last month. You may access the filings at the PUC by using the PUC's Interchange system (interchange.puc.texas.gov) and searchig for Docket No. 49351.
SURCHARGE: The PUC ordered Bear Creek to collect surcharges to recoup the $409,654.58 in expenses it incurred in the rate appeal. When a rate appeal is filed, jurisdiction of the matter is no longer with Bear Creek, but instead with the PUC, and Bear Creek is required by state law to participate. The PUC asks for volumes of information in order to evaluate the financial position of the utility to determine rates. The PUC determined that a monthly surcharge of $4.77 per each connection per month must be issued over the course of 36 months until the total rate-case expense of $409,654.58 has been recovered.
REFUND: The PUC ordered Bear Creek to refund amounts over-collected by the October 2018 rates. Bear Creek is required to issue a refund until the earlier of 14 months, or until a net amount of $121,367.12 has been refunded. For a 3/4" meter the monthly refund is $4.19 and for a 1" meter the monthly refund is $8.65. Most Bear Creek residential customers have a 3/4" meter.
SUMMARY: You will see the surcharge and refund listed separately on your monthly bill. The PUC approved a surcharge that exceeds the refund in the total amount of $288,287.46, or $0.58 per month for the first 14 months for customers with a 3/4" meter, with the $4.77 per month surcharge continuing on each monthly bill for an additional 22 months thereafter. Therefore, the net effect is that most residential 3/4" meter customers will be charged over the course of 36 months for the rate appeal rather than receiving any actual credit. This deicsion was not made by Bear Creek, but rather the PUC based upon the rate appeal.
If you have any questions about the surcharges and refunds or any other water system issues, please join us for an upcoming Board meeting. We welcome all our customers to participate in the discussions about their water system.