Big wa­ter rate hikes in Hana take ef­fect

Some face a ten­fold in­crease over the next four years, from $1.42 a gal­lon to $14.29

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By LEE IMADA

Man­ag­ing Ed­i­tor

Wa­ter rates are go­ing up ten­fold for Hana Wa­ter Sys­tems’ north ser­vice area users over the next four years from $1.42 to $14.29 per gal­lon for the first 25,000 gal­lons fol­low­ing a Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion de­ci­sion on Oct. 1.

Hana Wa­ter south ser­vice area users will see their rates go up more than three times from the cur­rent $1.42 a gal­lon to $4.82 on Jan. 1, 2022.

The com­pany said in ini­tial fil­ings in De­cem­ber that it was re­quest­ing the rate in­crease be­cause its cur­rent rates don’t and would not in the fore­see­able fu­ture pro­duce suf­fi­cient rev­enue to al­low it to re­cover in­curred op­er­at­ing costs.

The com­pany had a net loss of $181,718 for 2016 and $145,890 for Jan­uary through Oc­to­ber 2017 for its wa­ter oper­a­tions for the north ser­vice area. And for the same time pe­ri­ods, its south ser­vice area had a net losses of $152,556 and $141,575, the PUC fil­ings said.

The fil­ings say the cur­rent rate case is de­signed pri­mar­ily to elim­i­nate the op­er­at­ing losses and to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to earn a re­turn for both the north and south oper­a­tions. The old rates had been in ef­fect for 22 years.

Its north ser­vice area con­sists of 97 cus­tomers, most of whom are res­i­dents in Hana Agri­cul­tural Park. The area in­cludes Hana Air­port.

Its south ser­vice area con­sists of 74 cus­tomers in and around Hana town and in­cludes Travaasa Hana Ho­tel, Hasegawa Gen­eral Store and the post of­fice.

In its de­ci­sion and or­der in two dock­ets, the PUC ap­proved a rev­enue in­crease of $197,316, or a 476 per­cent jump over the cur­rent rates, for the north ser­vice area, and an in­crease of $211,510, about 360 per­cent above cur­rent rates, for the south ser­vice area.

Rev­enues prior to the in­creases for the north ser­vice area were about $42,500 and $52,000 for the south ser­vice area, PUC fil­ings said.

The first phase of the in­crease took ef­fect Oct. 1 with rates in the north ser­vice area jump­ing from $1.42 a gal­lon to $3.99 and from

$1.54 a gal­lon to $2.10 in the south ser­vice area for the first 25,000 gal­lons a month.

The fu­ture phased-in rate in­creases by year for the north and south ser­vice ar­eas for the first 25,000 gal­lons a month fol­low:

≤ Jan. 1. $6.57, $2.78.

≤ Jan. 1, 2020. $9.14, $3.46.

≤ Jan. 1, 2021. $11.72, $4.14.

≤ Jan. 1, 2022. $14.29, $4.82.

About 20 peo­ple at­tended a

pub­lic hear­ing in Hana on May 21, and all writ­ten com­ments ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to and in­abil­ity to pay the higher rates.

Geneva Crouse, a cus­tomer in the north ser­vice area, said she lives on her grand­fa­ther’s prop­erty.

“I will not be able to af­ford this pro­posed in­crease and do not agree with other clar­i­fy­ing charges along with the rules and reg­u­la­tions ap­pli­ca­ble to pro­vi­sions of wa­ter ser­vice,” she said.

Grace Pre­tre said in writ­ten tes­ti­mony filed with the PUC that he could not “be­lieve that such an out­ra­geous in­crease would even be con­sid­ered or

al­lowed. Hana is a place where wa­ter is abun­dant and where many Na­tive Hawai­ians re­side with their fam­i­lies, of­ten on land that has been passed down through many gen­er­a­tions,” said Pre­tre, a farmer.

“Yes, the price of wa­ter has been rel­a­tively low for a long time, and per­haps a rea­son­able in­crease is un­der­stand­able, but not the hun­dreds and thou­sands of per­cent that is be­ing pro­posed,” he said.

Hana Wa­ter Sys­tems is a sub­sidiary of Colorado-based Bio-Log­i­cal Cap­i­tal, which pur­chased most of Hana Ranch in 2014. In 2016, Hana Wa­ter Sys­tems as­sumed oper­a­tion, man­age­ment and main­te­nance of the wa­ter sys­tems af­ter the PUC ap­proved the trans­fer.

The sys­tems used to be run by Hana Wa­ter Co. and Hana

Wa­ter Re­sources, which were wholly owned sub­sidiaries of HRP Hana LLC.

The trans­fer of the wa­ter sys­tems was part of the larger ranch pur­chase, the PUC has said. An as­set pur­chase agree­ment for the two wa­ter sys­tems to­tal­ing $162,000 was forged and ap­proved by the PUC when the trans­fer was ap­proved.

HRP had said it was not in­ter­ested in or able to op­er­ate the wa­ter sys­tems or to make needed re­pairs and up­grades. Each sys­tem lost more than $100,000 in 2012 and 2013, ac­cord­ing to unau­dited re­ports filed with the PUC.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.