Author: Alex Clegg

SOG Environmental Finance Ctr

4 Keys to Creating a Useful Utility Rate Sheet

A customer calls and wants to know the water and sewer rates in his town. What do you say? Do you direct him to your website? Tell him to swing by town hall or your office and pick up a pamphlet? Can you describe your rates quickly over the phone?

Keeping customers informed of the most up-to-date water and sewer rates keeps all parties on the same page. While there is much more to communication between utilities and their customers than only rate sheets themselves, making this information readily available in the form of readable and intuitive rate sheets is a step in the right direction. At the EFC we see a lot of rate sheets, through our work in the Smart Management for Small Water Systems project, various surveys for statewide water and wastewater rates dashboards, and other work. The rate sheets we have seen run the gamut, from clear and concise, to convoluted and labyrinthine, to essentially non-existent. This post summarizes four best practices for creating a good utility rate sheet that we have learned over the years.

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CAPped: Five Examples of Customer Assistance Programs for Water Utilities

Water pricing is a delicate art, as utilities often must balance competing priorities when setting rates. How can the utility set rates that ensure financial sustainability for the system while also balancing affordability concerns for customers? With any rate increase, the ability of customers with low income (sometimes on fixed income) to pay their bills in full and on time is a crucial consideration. Establishing an equitable rate structure benefits not only these ratepayers, but also the utility, which can now more confidently project revenues. Utilities employ several mechanisms to help customers afford and pay their bills. One mechanism is to develop a Customer Assistance Program that helps individual customers pay part of their water bills when they cannot afford to pay on their own.

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