AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved stipulations between Aqua Maine Inc. and the Office of Public Advocate that have resulted in water rate increases in Aqua Maine’s offices in Millinocket, Skowhegan and Freeport.
The rate increases of $95,000 or 8.38 percent, $116,000 or 9.16 percent, and $60,500 or 8.99 percent over current revenues took effect on Aug. 1, while the approved stipulations also will result in a deduction of the amount of water included in the minimum base charge to 300 cubic feet per quarter.
The closure of the Katahdin Paper Mill in Millinocket was the driving force in that town’s rate increase. When the mill resumes operation, Aqua Maine is required to report to the PUC within six months to allow for a review of how the increase in water use should affect Aqua Maine’s rates.
“It is always difficult for customers to bear increases in rates for essential services,” said Chairman Tom Welch in a press release. “While the changes in the minimum charge, accomplished by reducing the amount of water covered by that charge, does not provide an opportunity to avoid the effects of the increases entirely.”
Aqua Maine had proposed rate increases of $99,026 in Millinocket, $121,993 in Skowhegan and $62,962 in Freeport.
In addition to the general increases, Aqua Maine also proposed reducing the amount of water that is included in the minimum base charge to 300 cubic feet per quarter from 1,200 per quarter in the Millinocket and Freeport divisions, and to 600 from 1,200 in the Skowhegan division.
In the stipulation approved by the PUC, the increases were reduced to the aforementioned levels, and the changes to the minimum base charge structure were approved.