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NAWC NewsFlow
October 20, 2009
     
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State Regulatory Relations


NARUC Staff Subcommittee on Accounting and Finance Meet in Tacoma

The NARUC Staff Subcommittee on Accounting and Finance held its 2009 fall conference/meeting Oct. 5–8, 2009, at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, Wash.

Eva Tang, chief financial officer of American States Water Company, and Paul Foran, vice president of regulatory programs at American Water, participated in the panel, “Investment in Infrastructure – What impact has the economic stimulus package had in assisting water infrastructure investment.” Mark Chesla, controller of American Water, participated in a separate panel focusing on IFRS.

Presentations from the meeting will be available soon on the NARUC Web site.

 

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program Launches Solar Domestic Hot Water Pilot Program

Sponsored by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program recently launched a program targeting single-family homeowners with electric hot water heating systems. For those who purchase and install a solar domestic hot water heater, the Solar Domestic Hot Water Pilot Program is currently offering a $1,200 incentive. The new solar hot water heating system, if qualified, may either replace or supplement the existing electric hot water heating system.

A solar hot water heating system is a reliable and efficient alternative for heating hot water. It can provide a significant portion of a home’s water-heating needs. Typically, a solar hot water system is designed to meet 100 percent of summer hot water demand and 30 percent of winter hot water demand for an average single-family home. Standard electric heating is used as a back up to solar hot water heating systems. By installing a solar hot water heater, New Jersey homeowners can potentially cut their water heating bills in half. Additionally, installing a qualified solar domestic hot water heater can reduce the load of an electric water heater by almost 2,500 kWh per year, preventing 3,958 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually. This is the equivalent of not driving a car for four months every year.

“Participating in New Jersey’s Solar Domestic Hot Water Pilot Program is another one of the many ways New Jersey residents can help meet Governor Corzine’s comprehensive Energy Master Plan goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020,” said Jeanne M. Fox, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. It provides the homeowner with immediate savings on their utility bill and all of us save by reducing the need for future utility infrastructure.”

Customers interested in applying for this new incentive must meet the following requirements:

  • Install and operate a qualified Solar Domestic Hot Water System in an existing New Jersey single-family home.
  • Residence must currently be serviced by one of the following electric utilities: Atlantic City Electric (ACE), Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), or Rockland Electric Company (RECO).
  • Incentives are available for systems purchased on or after Sept. 9, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2009.
  • List of qualifying systems may be found at NJCleanEnergy.com.
  • The solar domestic hot water heater must be installed by a contractor with a NJ Home Improvement Contractor’s (HIC) License that is participating in the Solar Domestic Hot Water Pilot Program.
  • Application must be postmarked within 120 days from the date of purchase.

Replacing or supplementing an electric hot water heater with a solar hot water system will help New Jersey residents save money and energy, and help protect the environment.

More information about the Solar Domestic Hot Water Pilot Program can be found here or by calling 866-NJSMART (866-657-6278).

 

Pennsylvania Commission Approves DSIC Increase

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has authorized Aqua Pennsylvania to increase the cap on its Distribution System Improvement Charge (DSIC) from 5 percent to 7.5 percent of billed revenues. In doing so, the PUC noted that, since the DSIC had been in place, Aqua had increased by nearly five times the number of miles of main replaced or relined. The commission also observed that expanding the use of the DSIC furthered the PUC’s goal of promoting the rehabilitation of small, under-capitalized water systems:

We also find that small and non-viable acquisitions increase Aqua’s need for DSIC-eligible infrastructure investments. Corrective measures to these systems, including water main replacement, are often needed well in advance of base rate recognition. Aqua St. No. 2 at 3. While we will continue to carefully balance the needed remediation of these small water systems with the impact on the rates of Aqua’s existing customers, increasing the DSIC surcharge cap for Aqua facilitates our policy of encouraging large, well-run, water companies to acquire small, non-viable water systems.

Pennsylvania P.U.C. v. Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc., 275 PUR 4th 247, 255 (2009).

 

Artesian Water Granted Rate Increase

By order issued Sept. 22, 2009, the Delaware Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement resolving Artesian Water Company’s pending rate filing. In the Matter of the Application of Artesian Water Company, PSC Docket No. 08-96 (Order No. 7657). Under the terms of the settlement, Artesian was authorized to implement, on a permanent going-forward basis, the temporary rates that it had previously put in place under bond, which equated to an approximate 15 percent increase in the company’s annual gross intrastate operating revenues. Artesian further agreed not to apply for another rate increase for 18 months and to delay the start of its monthly billing pilot program until June 30, 2010.

 

New Jersey Contamination Case To Proceed

Two weeks after the dismissal of a similar case in West Virginia (see Oct. 6, 2009 NewsFlow), a Federal District Court judge in New Jersey ruled that a class-action lawsuit against Dupont for the alleged contamination of local water supplies through the introduction of perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) may proceed.

Rowe et al. v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours and Company, Civil Nos. 06-1810 and 06-3080. Specifically, the Court certified (1) a claim for private nuisance by a subclass of private well owners; (2) a claim for public nuisance by a subclass of water utility customers; and (3) class treatment of a strict liability claim (i.e., whether Dupont’s release of PFOA constituted an “abnormally dangerous activity.”