Abbott Labs

An Abbott Nutrition plant is located in western Casa Grande.

CASA GRANDE — The owner of the Abbott Nutrition plant in Casa Grande wants utility regulators to lower a proposed rate increase sought by Arizona Water Company, documents show.

Exceptions and comments have been filed after an administrative law judge recommended that the Arizona Corporation Commission grant rate increases to Arizona Water Company.

Earlier this month the recommendation was made that the increase in minimum rate for AWC customers would be about $5 a month, in part due to the fact that average usage has declined.

“AWC explained that average per residential customer sales have declined by approximately 30 percent from 2003 to 2019, making it more difficult for the Company to recover its cost of service or have adequate cash flow to meet its operating expense,” said the recommendation.

Back in 2019, the AWC filed with the commission an intent for a rate case application for its three Western Group water service areas, including Casa Grande, Coolidge, Stanfield, White Tank and Ajo.

According to the recommended opinion and order from Feb. 3, the monthly minimum residential charge for the company’s Pinal Valley area, which includes Casa Grande, Coolidge and Stanfield, would be $26 for a 5/8-inch-by-¾-inch meter.

The entire recommendation can be found on the document. According to the AWC, the most standard residential water meter size for Casa Grande residents is 5/8 by ¾. Currently, residents pay $21.16 for a 5/8-by-¾ meter.

On Feb. 16 Abbott Laboratories, an Illinois corporation registered to do business in Arizona, filed an exception to the recommended order and opinion.

According to the document, Abbott disagrees with its proposed rate of $1.51 and requests that the commission bring the final rate design closer to the cost of service by setting the increased rate for the Pinal Valley 6-inch untreated meter at no more than $1.35 per 1,000 gallons.

Currently, Abbott pays $1.25 per 1,000 gallons for its main 6-inch meter untreated water supply.

“Similarly, the ROO’s (recommended order and opinion) recommended Pinal Valley six-inch potable water industrial rate is much higher than all parties other than the staff proposed,” Abbott said in the document.

The Residential Utility Consumer Office, or RUCO, also filed an exception.

“RUCO can only say that its concerns in these matters are still legitimate, and to the extent there was lack of clarity, RUCO will attempt to provide clarity here on the recommendations to which it takes exception,” RUCO said in its exception.

Arizona Water Company also filed an exception for five items such as recovery of the company’s tank maintenance cost deferrals and clarifying that the rates specified in the recommended opinion and order apply to Abbott’s dedicated nonpotable 6-inch connection.

Consideration has been tentatively scheduled for the commission’s open meeting to be held on March 23 and 24.

According to the recommendation, the rates and charges should be effective for all services provided on or after April 1.

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Gabrielle Olivera is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more.