Update on Utilities Services, Inc. proposed rate hike

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By GM Shaun Nordlie
Apple Canyon Lake will be joining other lake associations serviced by Utilities Services of Illinois, Inc.(USI) to hire an attorney and expert witnesses to fight the proposed increases for water meters and usage. The ACL Board of Directors has approved the use of up to $10,000 to fight these increases.
We will work with the Illinois Attorney General, who has an expert accounting witness, and are considering hiring a utility engineer to argue the proposed list of capital improvements requested by USI.
All owners with a house within the Association received a letter from USI in mid-December outlining the proposed increases. For a typical household, the monthly cost for the water meter will increase from $24.73 to $35.03 – a 41.6 percent increase. The water usage rate per 1,000 gallons will increase 43.4 percent from $5.71 to $8.19.
In their letter, USI mentions they have spent over $3 million in capital improvements since 2015, and plan to spend an additional $14 million by the end of 2019 to improve water quality, lessen service disruptions due to main breaks, and reduce inflow and infiltration to wastewater treatment plants. The only upgrade planned at Apple Canyon Lake in the next two years replaces a Generator at the Well House for $55,000. The letter explains that all upgrades are consolidated, and all USI customers share the cost of upkeep and upgrades so that small stand-alone groups do not bear the cost of large capital expenditures.
What does this mean for the Association? We will see increases at all our facilities in both usage and meter. Since we are considered commercial, we will pay the same as residential for meters, but our usage rate will go up 94 percent. Based on calculations of gallons used in 2017, ACL could see an increase of almost $20,000 in 2019.
We will not fight the USI Availability fee. This is a fee that was established between the original developer and USI and is not a part of the argument against the proposed rate increases.
USI is planning a community Utilities, Inc. Question and Answer Open House to be held at the ACL clubhouse on April 25 from 5 – 8 p.m.  In the meantime, if you have had any issues, or service concerns with USI, please let me know at shaun.nordlie@applecanyonlake.org or 815-492-2292.
What  you can do in the meantime
Members may file a comment with the Illinois Commerce Commission. The link to the ICC website is https://www.icc.illinois.gov/. From this page, find eDocket, type in 17-1106 (the case number for this rate increase). On the right side of the screen is a blue box, choose Public Comments and then File a Comment in the blue box at the top, left-hand side of the screen, and then Submit.