Snohomish couple upset after letter from water company proposes 381% rate hike

May 31, 2018 by meganmertz2289

A Snohomish couple was upset after discovering their water bill was about to skyrocket.

Tom and Amber Cormie received a letter from their water company with a proposed rate hike of 381%.

“I don’t know how they, with a straight face, they put that on a piece of paper and sent it to us,” Tom Cormie said.

Their provider, Iliad Water Company, sent that letter to the couple and about 100 other families in the area.

“It just seems like they are just trying to make more money on the water and they are the only water game in town, so what are you going to do?” Tom Cormie said.

The couple called me for help, and I took their concerns straight to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.  WUTC Director of Communications Amanda Maxwell said the commission regulates private utilities across the state.

“The company submitted their initial proposal to the UTC, and our staff reviewed it,” Maxwell explained.  “They actually found some accounting errors and have sent it back to the company to revise.”

Maxwell said Iliad isn’t trying to swim in its customers cash.

“They don’t make a profit on the wholesale water cost,” Maxwell said.

Iliad purchases water from cities and other utility companies.  When the company pays more, the increase is passed to customers like Tom and Amber Cormie.

“The proposal was for wholesale water costs, which is a pass-thru cost for these water companies,” Maxwell said.

However, Iliad runs 21 water systems across the state that Maxwell said have merged into one.   Maxwell said the commission staff saw that the company proposed to have the 100 people in Tom and Amber’s system pay for the entire rate hike instead of spreading it to all of their customers.

“They have since revised with the company to apply those charges to their entire customer base, which will flatten out that increase significantly,” Maxwell explained.

After speaking with Maxwell, Iliad sent me the new proposed rates, which I took back to Tom and Amber Cormie.  The proposal dropped down to 5.01%.

“Oh my gosh!  Wow, that is incredible!” Amber Cormie said.

“That is going to save us, I don’t know how much, but a lot of money every year in water,” Tom Cormie said.  “And the rest of the neighborhood… Everybody up here. That is unbelievable.”

The newly proposed rate hike of 5.01% still needs to be approved by the WUTC before it goes into effect.