An Important Rate Contest Decided
The Public Service Commission of Pennsylvania has made public the decision in which it approves the application of the Springfield Consolidated Water Company that it be permitted to increase its rates. The new schedule is effective from April first. The order reviews the situation in detail with comments affecting the water supply for a large section of country surrounding Philadelphia. It reads in part: “The refusal of these municipalities to pay the charges, jeopardizes the company and its ability to render efficient service. There is no way in which this danger can be removed, except by rearranging the rate schedule, so that the consumers will pay the fire protection charges which the municipalities will not meet. Before litigation could be determined, there would be owing to the company a sum variously estimated at between $500,000 and $1,000,000, the loss of which would ruin the company and payment of which, in any one year, would seriously embarrass the municipalities. In the interests of the consumers, the public and the company, we therefore feel constrained to approve a new schedule of rates which will place upon the consumers the fire protection charges not assumed by the municipalities, if such schedule does not thereby impose unjust and unreasonable rates. The schedule we are asked to approve fixes an annual rate for fire protection of $15 per hydrant, being the charge in effect prior to 1918 and rearranges the rates of the consumers so that each class is increased in varying amounts. The company has been ordered to carry out construction necessary in order to render adequate service to the rapidly growing communities which it serves. The company is not supposed to cither economically finance new construction, or conduct its ordinary affairs, if its revenue is thus depleted. Public service and needs of consumers make it our duty to fix charges that will enable this company to fulfill its obligations and be fair to its owners, provided such charges are reasonable to the consumers. We are convinced the gross revenue heretofore determined upon must be realized by the company. The new rates will return the amount determined upon by the commission divided equitably as is possible among those served and the charges to each consumer will not, in itself be an unreasonable one, nor will it be more than is sufficient to fairly recompense the company for its expenditure for his benefit. We therefore approve the application filed and direct that the schedule of rates therein contained be made effective on April 1, 1919, on one day’s notice to the public and this commission.”
There was a wide range of prices in the bids recently submitted for sewer work in Milwaukee, Wis., varying from $7.81 to $23.45 per lineal foot.