Illinois American Water, Citizen’s Utility Board at odds over rate hike

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Illinois American Water is proposing a rate hike, sparking a debate between the Citizen’s Utility Board and the water utility company.

The company filed a request with the Illinois Commerce Commission to raise its rates on Thursday, Feb. 8. They said the average residential wastewater bill would go up by about $5 per month, with the average customer seeing a $24 increase in residential monthly water service bills.

The company explained that the rate hike is in response to $557 million in water and wastewater investments made through 2025, which will replace aging infrastructure and improve water quality. They released the following statement in regards to the proposal:

We carefully plan and invest in the infrastructure of our water and wastewater systems to provide safe, clean, and reliable service to nearly 1.3 million Illinoisians in more than 140 communities across the state. By making prudent, ongoing investments, Illinois American Water is committed to protecting public health and safety in the communities we serve. At the same time, we remain committed to addressing the needs of our most vulnerable customers.

Rebecca Losli, Illinois American Water President

But the Citizens Utility Board is speaking out against such a hike in water rates. They are encouraging anyone against the proposal to sign a petition against the rate hike or file public complaints directly with the ICC.

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CUB Executive Director Sarah Moskowitz released this statement about the rate hike to the ICC:

Illinois American’s $152 million rate-hike request is severe and greedy. The company is pushing for an excessive profit rate for its shareholders and CUB will do everything it can to reduce it. We often hear complaints from Illinois American customers about painfully high bills, fueled by the utility’s aggressive strategy of buying up municipal systems across Illinois, along with winning legislative approval to add a “Qualifying Infrastructure Plant” surcharge to bills. While water customers struggle, Illinois American’s parent company has pulled in about $1.6 billion in profits over the last two years. This punishing rate hike will be a hardship to consumers who depend on the utility for a vital service and that’s why we’re challenging the company’s money-grab.

Sarah Moskowitz, Citizens Utility Board Executive Director

Approximately 1.3 million people are customers of Illinois American Water, as it is the largest investor-owned water utility company in Illinois.

According to Illinois American Water, some of the investments included in the rate request would be replacement of around 44 miles of aging water and wastewater pipelines, replacement of lead water service lines and upgrades for storage tanks, wells, pumping stations, hydrants, meters and wastewater plants throughout the state.

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In 2016 and 2022, Illinois American had successfully made previous rate hikes before the ICC. This rate case would take around 11 months to complete. If a final rate order is approved by the ICC, customers will be seeing the new rates in early 2025. Until then, they will still be paying their regular rates.

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