STATE HOUSE — The Rhode Island Senate passed (2021-S 0628 Tuesday asking RI Auditor General Dennis Hoyle for a Kent County Water Authority audit upon complaints of unusually large bills and its resistance to fixes, points the utility contests as it notes an ongoing Division of Public Utilities and Carriers audit.
Attempts by Senators to rectify the situation with KCWA help have not solved the issue, said Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), who sponsored the bill requesting the audit. David L. Simmons, Executive Director /Chief Engineer at KCWA, contested Raptakis’s news release , saying the KCWA has followed all the suggestions proposed by RI Senators and that investigations of the bills in question have turned up no issues with the KCWA water meters or billing practices.
“It’s unfortunate that the Senate has had to resort to requesting the Auditor General’s help but the KCWA has been uncooperative and unwilling to fix these problems that have plagued the ratepayers over the past year. They even threatened to shut off people’s water during the pandemic. The KCWA has refused to listen to any of our recommendations and their behavior and service displays a level of disregard for their ratepayers that is truly unacceptable,” Raptakis said
“The customer’s bill called out in this resolution was thoroughly investigated by KCWA and then again independently by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC), both entities finding the bill to be accurate. Furthermore, this customer’s meter was independently tested by a 3rd party on a certified test bench witnessed by DPUC and also found to be accurate. In fact, all meters, old and new, that were independently tested by a third party came back as accurate,” Simmons wrote in a response to the resolution posted to the KCWA website.
“Every meter that has been independently tested, old and new, has come back 100% accurate. All meter testing and accuracy has been physically verified by a member of the RIDPUC. KCWA is a highly regulated non-profit public utility unlike Verizon and National Grid. KCWA cannot make additional money without giving it back to ratepayers,” Simmons wrote.
Cosponsors of the resolution included Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), Sen. Gordon E. Rogers (R-Dist. 21, Foster, Coventry, Scituate, West Greenwich), Sen. John Burke (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick), Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Sen. Kendra Anderson (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), Sen. Elaine J. Morgan (R-Dist. 34, Hopkinton, Charlestown, Exeter, Richmond, West Greenwich), Sen. Jeanine Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett), and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick).
It is our hope that the Auditor General can get to the bottom of what is causing the multitude of problems that have come out of the KCWA over recent memory and through his review, the ratepayers of the KCWA will finally get the proper service that they pay so much money for,” said Raptakis.
“KCWA cannot make additional money without giving it back to ratepayers,” said Simmons. As a regulated public utility, he said, KCWA is continuously overseen by four government agencies: PUC, DPUC, AG, and RIDOH. Senator Raptakis has a perceived solution in his mind in search of a problem to gain political favor of his constituency with a complete disregard of the financial toll and erosion of the public’s trust in an agency providing a critical water services to 100,000 people in eight cities and towns. Clean potable water is a vital resource that nobody can live without and KCWA continues to deliver on providing this resource at a very low cost of $0.007/gal.”
Raptakis said the audit the Senate requested should be complete in 6-9 months, with a report by the end of the year. He said the review will be good for the ratepayers and the KCWA.
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