October 18, 2021

City of Naperville Could Increase Water, Electricity Rates

Naperville residents could see an increase to their water and electricity bills. The proposal presented by city staff Wednesday comes on the heels of a pair of rate studies the city had performed.

Water Rate Increase

Residential water users could see annual increases of 4.7% from 2022-2024.

According to Darrell Blenniss, the city’s director of public utilities-water, “When you compare your current water bill and what it will be under the new rate increases, we still maintain a very competitive position. The current bill structure where we’re based on the communities listed here, we’re third place. And even with the rate increases, we stay in third place.”

Electric Rate Increase

A potential rate increase is also in order for electricity users. The proposal calls for an annual rate increase of 1% in both 2023 and 2024.

According to Brian Groth, the city’s director of public utilities—electricity, “With our 0% increase next year, this is what we expect their bill to be. You can see how we compare to Geneva, Batavia—who are also municipal utilities—all the way to ComEd, which as of Oct. 1 just had a rate increase and now they are almost 10% higher than what our customers pay.”

Funding For Infrastructure Improvements

The rate increases would allow the city to set aside funding to pay for infrastructure work.

Staff members in the water division of the city’s public utilities department are looking to expand the annual water main replacement program by an additional 3 miles per year. In addition, the city would like to set aside funding to improve the Springbrook wastewater facility.

In doing so, the city will need to add a new fixed capital charge to customer’s monthly water bill. The added revenue is projected to bring in $800,000 in the first year, officials said.

City Finance Director Rachel Mayer said the fixed charge will help stabilize the rate increases over time.

Proactive Response

The city plans to continue its work already underway with the city’s Water 2.0 project, which deploys new interface units capable of transmitting remote, wireless monthly meter readings. The installations are expected to take place through the year’s end.

According to Mayer, “This will allow us not to have to estimate bills on an every other month basis, which then eliminates that fluctuation between months, which makes customers frustrated, which is understanding. The other piece of it is it should allow us to do some proactive identification if there’s a broken meter or somebody has a toilet running. Going into next year, we’re looking to do some more proactive communication around that, so that a customer doesn’t have to wait 30 days to find out they have a leaky toilet that then spikes their bill.”

The electricity division of the city’s public utilities department is eying tollway substation improvements to increase reliability for downtown and Interstate-88 customers.

Overall Increase

The water and electricity rate increases could prompt an overall residential utility bill impact of 2.1%, 2.6% and 2.7% starting next year through 2024, based on average household usage. That means a customer now paying $188.55 for water, sewer and electricity could be billed $192.45, $197.55 and $202.86 in 2022, 2023 and 2024, respectively.

The City Council is expected to put the rate increases to a vote during its first meeting in November.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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