By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee passed Senate Bill 163, which provides guidance to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for the voluntary purchase of water systems.
Senate Bill 163 sponsor, state Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, spoke about his constituents in Rockcastle County that suffered from a failing drinking water system that needs to be repaired.
He further explained that some small municipally-owned utilities that currently provide the service, struggle to provide the investment to maintain their infrastructure. In some cases, budget constraints, limited government funding, or lack of desire by some municipalities to continue in the water service business justify the need for tools to be able to sell systems to other utilities.
Carpenter noted the voluntary nature of the legislation. He said nothing in the bill dictates how the PSC should decide cases involving water system purchases or what rates should be. He also states that water systems that do not want to sell to a willing buyer would not be impacted by the legislation.
Jimmy Keeton with Kentucky American Water testified on the process by which the PSC would determine how rates could be recovered from a voluntary water system purchase. He also explained the cost Kentucky faces to ensure safe and adequate water and wastewater infrastructure noting that Kentucky will need to invest $8.2 billion in drinking water over the next several years.
Speaking against the bill were representatives of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and the Ky. Association of Municipal Utilities noting concerns over service cost.
The Kentucky Chamber supports the legislation as it improves water infrastructure, which is important to business development and growth.