Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
The UTC regulates the rates and services of private or investor-owned water companies that serve 100 or more customers, or have an average annual gross revenue per customer that exceeds $557 ($46.42 per month on average).
We currently regulate about 73 water companies that operate 700 water systems; serve 50,000 customers; and generate $18.2 million in revenue annually.
The UTC regulates:
The UTC does not regulate these service providers:
The UTC regulates companies' service standards and notices and disclosure policies.
Help is available for customers who cannot resolve a customer service or billing problem with a regulated company. To file a complaint against a regulated water company, fill out an Online Complaint Form or call 1-888-333-9882.
The Department of Health (DOH) regulates all water systems (about 16,000 in WA state) for water quality and water quantity (water pressure). For more information, visit the DOH Office of Drinking Water.
Rates must be fair, just, reasonable and sufficient, see state law RCW 80.28.10.
Expenses that are not allowed in rates include: charitable contributions, a new engine for owner's car, excessive salaries, improper or unreasonable affiliate transactions, or past operating losses.
A company owner is NOT entitled to a salary. Ownership investment is rewarded by return. All work must be compensated based on the job performed, for example meter reading compensation must be for meter reading activities.
The cost of doing business in the water industry affects the rates that customers pay. This cost to do business is increasing as companies must pay to ensure their water is safe. They must ensure their water meets the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Act.
Safe Drinking Water Act requirements include testing and customer notification, treatment or filtration, and the new arsenic rule adopted by EPA. New rules for radon, ground water protection and infrastructure replacement and upgrades are pending.
When a company files a rate case, the company must mail customer notices that include advice on how to make comments and the public meeting schedule.
The commission will take customer comments via mail, e-mail or phone and may hold a public meeting, depending on the regulatory issue.
Customers who file comments may receive additional information from the commission. To file a comment in response to a rate case filing, submit an Online Comment Form, e-mail email@example.com or call 1-888-333-9882.
After review of the filing commission staff will make a recommendation to the commissioners during an Open Meeting.
The three commissioners will decide on an action, which may be: No Action – allow rates to become effective, as filed, by operation of law; Suspend, with temporary rates, subject to refund; or Suspend.
If the filing is suspended it may come back to the open meeting for the Commissioners to consider. It may be set for hearing, a formal proceeding with an Administrative Law Judge, court reporter, sworn testimony by expert witness, written transcripts, etc. The maximum time period for a rate case is 10 months. The two options for resolution are a settlement between the parties or a full hearing.
If the case goes to hearing, a Prehearing Conference will be scheduled to file petitions to Intervene as a party, a hearing schedule, discovery and protective orders. If the parties disagree with the commission's final decision, they may appeal to Thurston County Superior Court.