County

Ada Seeks To Close Suez Water Tap

Ada County’s commishes are seeking to tighten the valve on a 22% rate hike being sought by Suez Water that would mean an average $80 increase in water payments annually for 98,000 Ada County citizens.

The commishes filed a motion to intervene in the rate hike request currently before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. If approved as requested, the hike would mean a $10.2 million revenue increase for Suez.

UPDATE 11/11/2020
Boise City has filed to intervene, as their water costs of $500,000 per year would be substantially impacted and passed onto everyone’s tax levy.

Two (2) law firms have also filed on behalf of water customers, with one being the Boise Bench issue of brown water.

Here is the county press release:

Ada County today filed a motion with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to intervene in a proposed rate hike filed by Suez Water Idaho Inc. The decision to intervene was approved unanimously by the Board of Ada County Commissioners. The proposed 22.3% rate increase would affect more than 98,000 customers in Ada County, and increase annual water bills by approximately $80.

“We believe this significant rate increase is excessive and comes at a time when families in Ada County are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Ada County Commission Board Chair Kendra Kenyon. “We are grateful to have a mechanism in Idaho where counties, cities and individuals can intervene and make their case to the PUC for restrained and prudent rate increases.”

The Idaho PUC allows comments on the proposed rate increase. It also allows those with a direct and substantial interest to Petition to Intervene, and if the Petition is granted, allows the intervenor to participate in the proceedings of the rate case. Ada County has chosen intervention so that it can be an advocate in the proceedings against this excessive rate increase request.

“Last year the county itself paid Suez in excess of $130,000 for water. A 22.3% increase would directly affect taxpayers at a time when everyone is cutting costs,” said Commissioner Patrick Malloy. “We simply have to be good stewards of county taxpayer dollars.”

According to PUC filing information Suez would increase its revenue by $10.2 million per year with the rate hike. Ada County contends the increase in revenue would not be used solely for delivering water to ratepayers but rather for other operating and salary-related costs.

Ada County’s filing makes note that the county has a direct and substantial interest in this matter as the county owns and operates a number of buildings which depend on Suez water. The outcome of the proceeding to intervene directly affects Ada County, and all residents of our communities.

Comments & Discussion

23 comments for “Ada Seeks To Close Suez Water Tap”

  1. Who did this??
    Nov 6, 2020, 4:53 pm

    Who’s the politico that allowed the for profit middleman to start with?

  2. Glad they are doing this, as I was stunned when I read the amount of the increase on the postcard I received in the mail. It is a double whammy for those who live in a subdivision that uses city water to maintain the common area landscaping – as this will also lead to an increase in HOA dues to cover the water bill.

    The Commissioners realize what they just did with funding the jail project will hit everyones wallet so now they can try to look like heroes?

  3. Paul Jurczak
    Nov 7, 2020, 7:25 pm

    The fundamental reason for rate increase is that Suez investors are not happy with 4.1% return rate on their investment. They want 7.5% as stated in the paperwork filed by Suez. I think this is ludicrous. How about cutting water rates and lowering their ROI to a reasonable 3% ? I think it would be quite generous in the age of negative interest rates on many central bank bonds.

  4. The rest of the story please
    Nov 7, 2020, 9:37 pm

    How much is the city making? The city owns the wells? Someone does? Or did some fool politico give Suez the wells?

    EDITOR NOTE–Not sure about ownership, but I think Suez owns the entire system just like Idaho Power owns the electric system. Boise Water Corp. (also private) was the previous owner.

  5. Suez’s stock was as low as 8 euros a share in 2020, it is now 16 euros. I would say the doubling of stock value within one year indicates investors are pleased with the recent financial performance of Suez.

    https://www.suez.com/en/finance/financial-information/suez-shares

    ROI is a function of risk, when the company has a public utility monopoly in one of the fastest growing areas, I think that is a pretty safe investment with little to no revenue risk and they should only need increases for more infrastructure and inflation, not increased yields; better yields will come organically with their expanding customer base and increased volumes.

    CPI for all urban customers for utilities is about 1.5% this year, give Suez 3%, 1.5% for inflation and 1.5% to fund investments in the system for growth.

  6. According to the City budget, it collects franchise fees from businesses that provide public services that the City has the “statutory right to provide”. City of Boise anticipates collections of about $1.2M in franchise fees for the water service. It is unclear to me what the City actually does to earn this fee, it seems rather than have voter say in increased taxes they outsource public services to private companies and request those private companies increase their fees to divert funds to the City. The City will collect about $5M in franchise fees this year from Cable TV, Natural Gas, Trash/Recycling, and Water. The City will get another $4.5M in fees from Alcohol sales, the City’s share of the State run monopoly.

  7. The City of Boise should own the water rights, not Suez Water.

  8. Does Suez own the water right? Or just the distribution system?

  9. Suez Owns It
    Nov 9, 2020, 12:45 pm

    Verbatim from a 2017 Suez brochure:

    Ownership and operations of water treatment and distribution systems. Facilities include 82 wells, two surface water treatment plants, 37 reservoirs, three green sand iron and manganese removal plants, two granular activated carbon treatment plants, seven major pressure zones, 97 total pressure zones, 104 booster stations, and 1,256 miles of water mains.

  10. From Suez Website
    Nov 9, 2020, 12:50 pm

    The Past & Future of Idaho’s Water & Wastewater

    We were founded in 1890, the same year Idaho was granted statehood. For more than a century, we’ve been growing with our expanding community. The first water system in Boise ran from Hulls Gulch, down Eighth Street, to the Eastman Hotel. It consisted of two artesian wells, two and one half miles of water mains, and one reservoir. In 1890, Boise’s population was approximately 2,300 people.

    Today we operate 81 wells, 35 reservoirs, two treatment plants, and 1,241 miles of water mains, to serve a population of more than 240,000 people. Artesian Water merged with Boise Waterworks in 1891 to form the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company. The company used thermal water from hot springs to heat downtown buildings, including the historic Natatorium.

    In 1913, with the advent of regulation by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, the hot and cold water divisions of the company were separated. Boise Water provided drinking water while its sister company, Natatorium Water, supplied hot water. The Boise Water Company was officially incorporated in 1928 and was acquired 18 years later by General Waterworks Corporation.

    In 1994, General Waterworks Corporation merged with United Water which is now one of the largest water services company in the nation. The following year, Boise Water changed its name to United Water Idaho to reflect its relationship with its parent company. Today, we are part of the global umbrella of companies within SUEZ, the second largest environmental services company in the world.

    EDITOR NOTE–Many thanks for the update!

  11. So private or city owned water?

    Do you want your essential services controlled by private owners driven by profits and ROI, or owned by the community with common goals of lower costs, safety, and efficiency?

    hint- before making a choice consider, irrigation canals, Lucky Peak Dam, Arrowrock Dam.
    Isn’t ‘city owned’ just ‘municipal socialism’?

    http://efc.web.unc.edu/2016/10/19/public-vs-private-a-national-overview-of-water-systems/

    EDITOR NOTE–This is an age old debate. Who should own: Prisons, school buses, trash service, electric generators, water rights, minerals on public land, oil below public land, buses and trains, ferry boats.

  12. It is an age old debate but it is a bit ironic that a privately held subsidiary of a large holding company based in France controls the water in Idaho’s largest city and capitol, whereas in Paris, the largest city in France, as well as its capital (French spelling), has its entire water cycle under public control by a sole service operator.

    In 2008, Parisians voted to be the shareholders of this precious natural resource, which is considered to be a “heritage to humanity”, with the water profit being reinvested back into the system to benefit its users, whereas the residents and businesses in Ada County simply line the pockets of the private investors of Suez. And in the petition to intervene filed by Ada County, water is referred to as “a critical public asset” yet it is under the control of a foreign entity.

    EDITOR NOTE–Ironic irony. Check out who runs the Valley Ride bus system. Ultimate operator is a British company, FIRST GROUP. They also own Greyhound.

  13. Easterner,
    Don’t ignore my question on who you are. My guess is you are either a female reporter or a losing politician.
    Why do you hide your name? Are you ashamed of what people will think of you and your chicken chit?

  14. Apparently Jim T doesn’t get irony.

  15. Eastie, we never agree but I support your continued participation — and anonymity.

    Anonymity is necessary due to the large number of bullies which our laws can’t quit reach to make them behave civilly. Worse, some of these bullies are in powerful government occupations.

    Do be careful not to be a bully yourself however. The political left, which you seem to be aligned with, fully supports people losing their careers over simple support of a candidate or active participation in a political process. That kind of anti-American nastiness is the hallmark of the French Terror and the Bolshevik takeover of the Russian revolution. Do check yourself, but do continue to participate. It is fun to show the holes in your logic. And sometimes I learn stuff I didn’t know.

  16. Dear Irony:

    ‘Capitol’ is the building.

    ‘Capital’ is the town where the building and headquarters of government is. Or the high school in the Boise School District. Or the finance term.

    So you really don’t know french spelling, do you?

    EDITOR NOTE–Could Paris be the CAPITOLE?

  17. western guy – you are missing the point of this article and the concerns of the citizens by focusing on mispellings or misuse of words.

    And I appreciate Mr. Editor allowing the ability to remain anonymous as it allows those who work in the public sector the ability to share what goes on behind closed doors if they wish to reveal such info.

  18. More Intervenors
    Nov 11, 2020, 9:34 am

    Boise City has filed to intervene, as their water costs of $500,000 per year would be substantially impacted and passed onto everyones tax levy.

    Two (2) law firms have also filed on behalf of water customers, with one being the Boise Bench issue of brown water.

    Here is the web address to go directly to all documents and public comments.

    https://puc.idaho.gov/case/Details/6543

  19. I do subscribe to the theory of do what you do best and outsource the rest. Not sure we need an ever expanding government to provide every service we think is essential. There is a wide range of public opinion as to what is actually essential.

    I do think citizens are best served via the private sector, the issue is to get the benefit of the private sector there needs to be competition since it is that competition that drives innovation and efficiencies. Competition eliminates those who fail to constantly improve.

    A private utility that has a monopoly to provide a specific service does not create the competition element. The better model might be the City owning the water infrastructure but outsourcing the operations and maintenance of that system to a firm who specializes in doing just that. Every 10 years or so the City will re-bid that service to see if there are more innovative or efficient ways of serving the public.

  20. western guy
    Nov 11, 2020, 4:04 pm

    People who can not spell correctly or use the correct word are not clear thinkers and, hence, their uttered thoughts might also be suspect.

  21. Thanks for the vote Anonymity.

    And employment is not the only reason people want privacy.

    btw, I am not ‘aligned’ with the left. I am aligned with fairness, equality and justice- just like that lady standing in New York Harbor. Another gift from France. What’s her name? 🙂

  22. So, when I look at what Suez has claimed to spend to update infrastructure (I’m ignoring the rate of return/margin issue for now)…

    It’s obvious that, in yet another way, I’m expected to subsidize growth. How much is Suez allowed to charge for new hookups, and does that amount include expected infrastructure upgrade costs? If it doesn’t, start there first, please.

  23. Rate Case Expenses
    Nov 12, 2020, 6:34 pm

    Not only are existing residents to subsidize growth while also making sure the investors feel their rate of return is fair, which they get to determine(?), we also get the responsibility of paying for the Rate Case Expenses.

    These expenses cover legal counsel and consultants, as well as other costs for this application to impose higher rates on us. These expenses are included in the Operation & Maintenance costs – $209,738 is the total, to be amortized over 3 years.

    This is shown in the testimony document for Cary. See Exhibit 10, Schedule 1 (page 25) and Line No. 25 in Exhibit 10, Summary Schedule 1-3 (page 1).

    Thanks Paul J. for your earlier post. This is a really big issue and the postcard said nothing about this aspect.

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