Department of Public Utilities to consider proposed water rate hikes in Northfield

  • The Grandin Reservoir, off Louisiana Road in northeastern Northfield, provides water for the East Northfield Water Co. Staff file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2019 1:01:42 AM

NORTHFIELD — The state Department of Public Utilities is holding a hearing this week regarding the East Northfield Water Co.’s proposed rate increases.

The hearing will be held Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1 South Station in Boston.

According to DPU spokesperson Katie Gronendyke, the hearings are “evidentiary hearings where the department and Attorney General (Maura Healey) will question the water company’s witnesses on various aspects of the company’s filing” requesting the increase.

Following the hearings, the East Northfield Water Co. and Healey will file briefs setting forth their positions on the issues raised in the company’s filing, Gronendyke said. The briefing period closes at the end of January.

After the briefing period ends, the DPU will evaluate the company’s proposal, the evidence presented and the positions set forth by the parties. The DPU will either approve or deny the rate increases by March 31, 2020, Gronendyke said.

The East Northfield Water Co. petitioned for an approximate 150 percent rate increase in May to cover $900,000 in losses the company has incurred since rates were last set in 2012, according to company President John Alden.

If the rate hike is approved, customers could see a 73.6 percent increase, effective April 1, 2020; followed by a compounded 42.4 percent increase, effective April 1, 2021. Discussion of the need for a new filter — which is estimated to cost between $3.5 and $5 million — has also been tossed around, following a string of more recent tests showing above-acceptable levels of bacteria.

The East Northfield Co. and Healey previously held discussions regarding a potential financial settlement. The settlement was unrelated to discussions about potentially merging with other water companies in town. According to information from the DPU, however, “the parties determined that settlement is not possible” on Nov. 26.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.

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