Case Number: 11-0562

  • April 4, 2012

    Respectfully submitted for public view and comment:

    I’ve read the various documents and case exhibits, especially those filed under the 285 Filing by John Hoy, Chief Operating Officer of the Cherry Hill Water Company/Utilities Inc., (filed June 29, 2011 at 11:59 PM); as well as the ten previous public comments submitted by my fellow Cherry Hill friends and neighbors.

    The inaccuracy of information provided in the submitted e-Docket postings by Utilities Inc., is sloppy at best and disrespectful to the ICC and the impacted Cherry Hill customers. An example of this was noted by Ms. Hoag in her public comment posting and is also evident throughout other documents. For example, under Filing 285: Exhibit 1.1, the [Schedule E] monthly proposed revenue statement identifies the usages as monthly, but the numbers are in fact quarterly usage numbers as referenced on [Schedule D]. Also, the Base Charge units tripled for some reason, and they should not have. The documents should also be properly titled. I shouldn’t have to study the financial documents to determine if they are quarterly or annual statements.

    Under Exhibit 1.0 - Direct Testimony of Lena Georgiev, Ms. Georgiev notes the benefits of “Project Phoenix”. As mythology states, the phoenix (at the end of its life) goes up in flames and is reborn from its ashes. Project Phoenix isn’t necessarily the salvation of Utilities Inc., or in the best interest of its customer base if the quality of management, customer care, and long term capital investment planning are sacrificed for profits. Ms. Georgiev speaks of how customers will benefit by monthly billing and this at a greater cost to Utilities Inc., too. Had they bothered to ask me, I would have preferred that they continue billing me quarterly and save the additional overhead costs. Project Phoenix really means the Cherry Hill customers will get burnt.

    Regarding water quality: I agree with the comments made by the Cherry Hill residents in their comment postings. I use a whole house water filtration system and change filters monthly due to excessive sediment. If I don’t change filters monthly the water pressure becomes unacceptable and the quality of water taste is poor. Water filters cost $18 each.

    We live across the street from the water tower. The previous “caretakers” of the utility property maintained the property like a park. They landscaped and planted flowers, really keeping the property looking nice. Utilities Inc. let all this go! It was sad to see. I believe their assessment of the vandalism and their corrective action is misguided. The property now looks like a level 4 federal prison. They were not proactive with a sound well-engineered solution, they were reactive. Also, I know when the water company pump at the water tower kicks on because it “hammers” my water pipes and the pipes/house vibrate while the pump is pumping. This hasn’t always been this way. Utilities Inc. should know better and have surge suppression and vibration dampener systems installed, especially with the aged delivery system of pipes in the neighborhood. Utilities Inc. has aggressively marketed their “maintenance protection plan” to Cherry Hill customers. The aggressive marketing speaks of the dangers (financial and hardship) of not participating in their “maintenance protection plan”. The neighborhood consists of many young families, single widowed, and elderly residents at risk of being “prime targets” for this type of revenue generating “scheme”.

    Regarding the exorbitant rate increase itself: If we consider a Consumer Price Index based price increase of 4% per year from 2004 to the present, the utility is far out of line with their proposal. A 4% increase over the previous year for each year since 2004 would at most amount to a 37% justified increase in rates. And let’s not forget, a profit margin is built into the rate and is also inflated with the annual 4% allowance.

    I’m sure the ICC will fairly evaluate the request of Utilities Inc. and make a ruling which is equitable to all parties.

    James R. Floyd
  • March 27, 2012

    the proposed rate increase by cherry hill water is outrageous, these are certainly not the times to drastically increase water rates. Any and all increases should be phased in over time if indeed there is any increase. It is ridiculous that in general companies must learn to operate efficiently in these times however utility companies or other monopolies just get to pass costs along to the customer instead of modifying practices and using technology to provide services without increasing costs
    kathy dorich
  • March 27, 2012

    My water is hard as a rock. Is full of rust and reeks of chlorine and the water company wants to double the rates. Give me a break! Another example of corporate greed!
    Alec Kesich
  • March 14, 2012

    The proposed increase for the services provided by Cherry Hill Water Company is ludicrous. First off they are requesting an overall revenue increase of roughly around $110K. If I do the math on the proposed overall revenue increase target they are looking to hit, it doesn't add up. They state the typical customer who consumes 4.449 can expect an increase from $26.42/mo to 60.34/mo (or roughly 128% increase). If you take the additional funds they will be getting from the typical home ($33.92) and multiply by 12 months ($407.04) and then multiply that by the approximate number of homes in the Cherry Hill neighborhood, which is 700, the amount comes to $284,928. In my eyes that equates to over $175k more than what they state they are looking to achieve.

    Does this company think the residents are stupid or don't care to pay attention to the highway robbery that they are planning on committing?

    I think all the previous comments have touched on my concerns, such as what improvements to the water quality we will be guaranteed for *any* rate increase have not been conveyed by CHWC, why such a steep increase as opposed to a lower increase that would compromise at meeting the company's request for revenues to increase, is this the best time to ask for this given the state of the economy and workforce when I know many residents throughout the neighborhood who are unemployed or underemployed and struggling to put food on the table to now have to worry about the cost of one of life's basic necessities more than doubling in cost - this is just simply unacceptable.

    I am wondering if any of the previous posters on this thread have contacted the ICC for a public forum?

    I plan on doing so, but if one is already in progress, would like to know before taking the task on?

    If we are going to pay these sort of prices, we may as well run some pipes and get Lake Michigan water, even though I understand those rates have increased as well - but - at least we know that the water quality is MUCH better than what is currently provided through CHWC.

    Tara Brown

    Tara Brown
  • November 29, 2011

    Thank you for allowing comment on this case. Doubling the rate on an area where residents tend to be on a limited income is criminal. Cherry Hill is full of young familys and retirees, doubling any utility on limited income families is completely out of line.

    I could go on for days about why this is a travesty, but I will shorten my point.

    Th utility claims they need to raise rates mainly for the following reasons: paint water tower, compensation for security fencing, and no rate increase in several years.

    Yes the tower needs painting. $108k is criminal for that task, and if the would have done any preventative maintenence on it, the tower would not be in such rough shape. They have a profit margin that allows for capital improvements, so I say that is on them not on us to fill the gap.

    Compensation for "security fencing". It is a chainlink fence with razor wire. Firsty it is a little overkill, second there should have been a fence around their equipment in the first place, and thirdly again that is a capital inmprovement that is on them not us to pay for.

    No rate increase in several years. Fine. Raise the rate, but do not double both the base rate and rate per 1k gallons, therin doubling the bill on all your customers. That is a 120% rate increase. And what do I get for that? smelly hard water that needs filtering and softening in my home, and I have to pay to install, operate, and maintain these systems and so does everyone else.

    Utility wants to double my bill? Ok fine. I want a softening system at the point of source, as well as a reverse osmosis filtration system for the entire area. That should cover the 120% increase and STILL leave a profit margin.

    Thank You,

    Justin Harty

    Justin Harty
  • October 31, 2011

    The proposed increase of 100% is going to come at such a time as to put many families over the edcge as far as finances are concerned. Cherry Hill Water has not indicated that they would provide any additional services to warrant such a large increase. In such hard economical times as the public is facing it would be fair to the public if an increase was spread over a longer period of time. Such as a10 to 12.5% increase per year over a 8 to 10 year period. A 100% increase all at once would be a disaster to many families already facing financial hardships.
    Thomas Nolan
  • October 25, 2011

    I do not see why the Cherry Hill Water Company deserves the right to raise the amount of money paid for water service. Since the well pump went out this past year we have had nothing but problems with the quality of our water. It smells like rotten eggs(too much sulfur), there is a major problem with rust (which has made us get a filtration system to get rid of the rust). Rumor has it that the company was talking about replacing the insides of the well (since the parts are wearing out from rust and the tank is rusting out at the joints) instead of replacing the whole well and tank. If the quality of the water and service was better they just might be in the right place for a rate increase of maybe 20%. But asking for a 100% increase is ridiculous!! With the retirees and families in our neighborhood having a hard time making ends meet, no raises for either retirees or the average working family-there is no reason to raise the rates!!! We are all just struggling for the neccessities of life to get by on a daily basis!!!
    Nancy Durkin
  • August 30, 2011

    Thank you for allowing me to comment on this case.

    A correction needs to be made to both the Municipality List submitted by W. Michael Seidel on Aug. 11 and the testimony of Bruce Haas Exhibit 2.0 in the 285 filing. Both list the area covered by Cherry Hill Water Company as Joliet Township. This is incorrect. Most, if not all, customers are in unincorporated New Lenox Township. We do have Joliet mailing addresses, but we are not in Joliet Township nor within the Joliet city limits.

    I think we all understand the need for rate increases to cover costs, but more than doubling rates seems to be extreme. Asking for an 8.6% profit seems to be quite high for our current economy. Our neighborhood has a high percentage of senior citizens on fixed incomes, and this rate increase could be catastrophic for them.

    The new computer/management systems implemented by the company have probably benefited the company, but I was a bit surprised to read that they should also have benefited me and other customers. Last year when the water was shut off to the neighborhood, we received no notice or explanation. When I called the company, the office was closed, but I could press a number to report a water outage. Then I had to listen to a list of states before I found Illinois and pressed that number. Then I had to listen to a list of water companies before I found Cherry Hill. Finally, I was transferred to what sounded like someone's cell phone, with this message, "Hi! This is (man's first name)! Leave a message!" I am not exaggerating. I left a message. No one returned my call. I had to call around the neighborhood until we pieced together what was happening. We did receive a call the next day that water was restored but was under a boil order, and then a final call when the boil order was cancelled, but no explanation otherwise.

    Michelle Hoag
  • August 30, 2011

    As of July cherry hill water has been smelling like rotton eggs, and they wont do anything about it. I have called them many of times, and with no response back. please help 815-530-9650 my water comes out of the water green or black. we cannot use it. they should be giving us a refund because other residents are complaining about the same thing. CR6G9
    george.fehringer
  • August 24, 2011

    I favor some rate increase but not the amount the company is asking for. why did they wait so long. 128% after 7 years is to high it should have been gradual over years. most of us are retired and not getting ss cola. everyone has to have water.
    Patricia Lovati
  • August 15, 2011

    I SEE TO YOU ARE GOING TO CONSIDER AN INCREASE FOR CHERRY HILL WATER COMPANY. I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT THE RATE THEY WANT WOULD MORE THEN DOUBLE THE CURRENT BILL . I KNOW THAT THINGS HAVE GONE UP BUT THE COST OF GETTING THE WATER OUT OF THE GROUND HAS NOT DOUBLED COSTS FOR THE PIPES IN THE GROUND HAVE NOT GONE UP THEY COST THE SAME AS THEY DID IN 1960 WHEN THEY PUT THEM IN. SO WHAT HAS GONE UP SINCE 2004 GAS, LABOR, PAY FOR EXEUTIVES.... IN MEAN WHILE I HAVE NOT GOT A RASE SINCE 2002... BUT MY TAXES HAVE GONE UP ( INCOME, PROPERTY, RTA, COUNTY, CITY ) THIS IS JUST ONE MORE THING RIGHT. WELL I HAVE A SMALL BUSINESS AND IT EMPLOY 9 PEOPLE AND IT'S THINGS LIKE THIS THAT MAKE ME ASK MY PARTNERS TO MOVE OUT OF THIS STATE. NOW IT'S TIME FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO DESIDE CAN PEOPLE TAKE MORE OF THIS? OR WILL YOU HOLD THE LINE AN INCREASE OF 25% MAYBE 30% BUT 130% IS THAT RIGHT? THANK YOU FOR YOUR THOUGHTS PAUL K. VARDAL
    PAUL VARDAL
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