Aquarion Water Co. will host two public hearings, one in Hingham and one in Millbury, next week to discuss a potential rate increase for its users.
According to a notice of filing from Aquarion, which supplies all water for Hingham, Cohasset, Hull, Millbury, and Oxford, rates would increase an average of 18.72 percent, beginning April 1, 2012.
Aquarion last received a general rate increase in April 2009.
For a typical residential customer in Cohasset, Hingham, or Hull, using approximately 700 cubic feet of water per month, rates would increase by $9.97 a month, or 16.5 percent. Customers in Millbury or Oxford, using approximately 5,200 gallons a month, would receive an increase of $8.11 per month, or 23.5 percent. (There are 7.48 gallons in a cubic foot.)
Rate increases for individual residents would vary.
The rate increase is the result of the rising cost of operations, said Harry Hibbard, vice president of operations for Massachusetts.
“It’s nothing specific. It’s the result of costs going up and having a need to increase the capital investment of the last three years, but it's primarily rising costs,” he said.
The department will hold public hearings on next Monday, June 27, at 7 p.m. at the Millbury High School Auditorium and at Hingham Town Hall on June 28 at 7 p.m.
Those unable to attend the hearing can also file written comments to the department no later than close of business on June 28.
After that, the company will go through a filing process with the Department of Public Utilities. The DPU will then file a ruling on the increase.
Although Hibbard said the company mainly expects to hear complaints on the increase at the public hearings, the adjustment is fair and warranted.
“I think we expect to hear primarily complaints about having to pay more. But it is what it is, in a very real sense. These are what our costs are,” Hibbard said. “The process involves us opening up our books and explaining anything that someone is interested in hearing an explanation of. When that process is complete, the DPU will evaluate our request and make the appropriate order.”
The increase would mean an additional $2,801,403 in revenue for the company annually.
Separately, the company recently asked Hingham residents to voluntarily limit use of lawn irrigation systems.