Some Rockland County customers of United Water received notices last week that they may have been charged lower winter rates instead of summer rates from May 1 through August 31, 2011 and that they will be paying the difference. About 18,000 of United Water’s Rockland customers were erroneously charged the lower rate although some customers will receive a credit. United Water Spokesman Rich Henning said the average difference was less than $10.
“The average customer affected will be (seeing) about an $8 adjustment,” explained Henning.
According to Henning, the company’s Rockland customers are the only ones who have different summer and winter billing rates. Summertime rates are about one and a half times the cost of winter rates. United Water serves 75,000 customers in the county.
Henning said the summer/winter rates have been in place for about 30 years. From 1980 through 1981, the county experienced a severe drought and reservoirs were extremely low. At that time, Henning said the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) wanted people in the county to conserve water and decided to impose a new rate structure.
For the first year, the cost ratio was three to one; summer rates were three times higher than winter rates. The following year the PSC modified the rate structure making summer rates 50 percent higher than winter rates and that arrangement has been maintained.
The implementation of a new billing system and a new rate structure last year caused the billing error. After it was discovered, Henning said the utility worked with the PSC to determine how the issue would be corrected, which led to the notifications sent to customers.
"Your next bill will be adjusted to reflect the proper rate which should have been applied to your account during that period," state the letter from United Water. "This will be noted on the bill as "RAD Adjustment."
While some customers will get a credit, most will see a surcharge in their next bill. No interest or penalties will be charged.