Global Utilities - 2009 Rate Case

Status
Prior
Docket Number
SW-20445A-09-0077
W-02451A-09-0078
W-01732A-09-0079
W-20446A-09-0080
W-02450A-09-0081
W-01212A-09-0082
Assigned Staff
R. Moore
W. Rigsby
D. Pozefsky

 

On February 20, 2009, Global Utilities filed rate applications ("Applications") with the Arizona Corporation Commission ("ACC" or "Commission") for six of its water systems including Palo Verde Utilities Company (“PVUC”), Santa Cruz Water Company (“SCWC”), Valencia Water Company – Town Division (“VWC Town”), Valencia Water Company – Greater Buckeye Division (“VWC GB”), Water Utility of Greater Tonopah (“WUGT”), and Willow Valley Water Company (“WVWC”) (collectively called "Global Utilities" or the "Company").  Global Utilities also asked that the six filings be consolidated into one.

The service areas of the Global Utilities systems are located in Western Maricopa County and Western Pinal County which are some of the fastest growing areas of the state.  Together, the combined systems of Global Utilities serve more than 68,000 people with more than 41,000 connections.

On May 19, 2009 RUCO filed to intervene in the case on behalf of residential ratepayers.

After resolving various problems with the six Applications, ACC Staff issued Letters of Sufficiency on  April 30, 2009, which informed the Company that the Applications met the requirements of A.A.C. R-14-2-103.  On May 12, ACC Staff filed a motion asking that the six individual filings be consolidated into one rate case proceeding. 

On May 19, 2009 RUCO filed to intervene in the case on behalf of residential ratepayers.

On May 28, 2009 the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") assigned to the case issued a procedural order which established the date for an evidentiary hearing on Global Utilities' Applications, granted RUCO's request for intervention, and granted the Company and ACC Staff's request for consolidation.

The evidentiary hearing in the matter has been set for for Monday, December 14, 2009 at 10:00 am at the Commission's Phoenix office at 1200 W. Washington in Hearing Room #1.

Direct testimony from ACC Staff, RUCO and other intervenors was filed on Monday, October 26, 2009.  RUCO is recommending the following increases in revenue for the Company's six operating systems:

                                

 GLOBAL RUCODIFFERENCE

 Palo Verde Utilities Company $8,493,379 $7,050,941 ($1,442,438)

Santa Cruz Water Company $3,081,292$2,124,488 ($938,804)

Valencia Water Company – Town Div.$1,657,077 $1,521,138 ($135,939)

Valencia Water Company – Greater Buckeye Div.$155,803   $92,360($63,443)

Water Utility of Greater Tonopah $677,179 $270,437($406,742)

Willow Valley Water Company$499,228 $388,430($110,798)

RUCO's recommended revenue requirement percentage increase versus the Company’s is as follows:

 

 GLOBALRUCODIFFERENCE

Palo Verde Utilities Company130.24% 108.12%-22.12%

Santa Cruz Water Company33.82% 23.32% -10.50%

Valencia Water Company – Town Div. 57.25%52.55% -4.70%

Valencia Water Company – Greater Buckeye Div.46.26%27.42% -18.84%

Water Utility of Greater Tonopah261.15%80.29% -180.86%

Willow Valley Water Company  105.43%82.03%-23.40%

Direct testimony on rate design was filed on Friday, November 6, 2009.  Company rebuttal testimony was filed on Friday, November 20, 2009.  Surrebuttal testimony from ACC Staff, RUCO and other intervenors was filed on Monday, December 7, 2009 (ACC Staff will file rate design surrebuttal testimony on Tuesday, December 8, 2009).  A final round of rejoinder testimony on required revenue from the Company was filed on Thursday, December 10, 2009.  The Company filed rate design rejoinder testimony on Friday, December 11, 2009.

On Tuesday, December 1, 2009, a public comment meeting was held at Maricopa Wells Middle School in Maricopa to give Global Utilities' customers an opportunity to provide their input on the rate increase proposal.  Approximately 450 people turned out for the meeting to speak to four of the five sitting ACC Commissioners.

The evidentiary hearing on Global Utilities began on Monday, December 14, 2009 and was concluded on Monday, December 28, 2009.  During the hearing, attorneys for the various parties involved in the case had the opportunity to cross examine expert witnesses and present their positions on various issues.

Final Accounting schedules and initial closing legal briefs were filed on Friday, February 5, 2010.  A second round of reply briefs were filed on Friday, February 19, 2010.

After weighing all of the evidence presented during the proceeding (including public comments and correspondence from concerned ratepayers) the ALJ assigned to the case issued her Recommended Opinion and Order(link is external) ("ROO") on Tuesday, July 13, 2010.

Exceptions to the ROO were due on Wednesday, August 4, 2010.

During a Special Open Meeting convened on Monday, August 30, 2010, the five ACC Commissioners passed, by a vote of 5 - 0, an amended order that reduced Global Utilities' proposed increase in rates.  The Commission's final Decision adopts RUCO's recommended 9.00 percent cost of common equity and ACC Staff and RUCO's recommendation to treat Global Utilities' Infrastructure Coordination and Financing Agreements ("ICFA") as contributions-in-aid-of-construction.  The Final Decision also opens a generic docket for the purpose of establishing a working group, which will be open to concerned stakeholders, that will study how ICFA's should be treated in future rate case proceedings.