Regulators to review rate hike for Gold Canyon community - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Regulators to review rate hike for Gold Canyon community

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Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2007 12:02 am | Updated: 7:31 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Arizona Corporation Commission has decided to reconsider a recently approved increase in sewer service rates for some Gold Canyon residents that nearly doubled the cost.

The commission in July voted 3-2 to approve a 72 percent increase in Gold Canyon Sewer Co.’s monthly residential rate, from $35 to $60.57.

But residents of Mountainbrook Village at Gold Canyon Ranch, the community the sewer was originally built to service, have complained that the higher rate forces them to pay for excess sewer capacity to be used by future customers.

In mid-July, the Residential Utility Consumer Office, a state-funded consumer watchdog group, filed an application with the commission to revisit the rate change. That request was granted last week by a 4-1 vote.

Commissioner Kris Mayes said she initially voted against the higher rate and had proposed two amendments that would have lowered it to $46.02.

The most significant amendment would have prohibited the company from charging existing customers for sewer capacity not currently in use. The other would have changed its capital and financing structure, at least on paper.

“Folks in the community are experiencing rate shock, and I think we can do better,” Mayes said.

The rehearing, which only commission chairman Mike Gleason opposed, is expected to convene in September. If the majority of commissioners agree, Mayes’ amendments could be included in the company’s rate agreement.

Larry England, Mountainbrook Village’s homeowners association director, said the dramatic rate increase was merely the latest in a number of affronts to the community by its sewer provider over the years.

“People have been very disgruntled over the performance of the facility, and then they keep asking for rate increases,” England said. “Mountainbrook Village is a 55-plus retirement community, and a lot of (residents) are living on fixed incomes.”

Gold Canyon Sewer has nearly doubled the capacity of its sewer from 1 million gallons to 1.9 million gallons in recent years, but some of the communities it expected to serve ended up going to competitors. Unlike many private sewer companies, it does not have a licensed monopoly in the area.

Company spokesman Greg Sorensen said the company does not comment on pending rate cases before the ACC.

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