Lexington County residents outraged at Blue Granite rate increase request after some call utility’s
Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County residents packed a room Monday to express their anger at a private utilities company’s request for double digit rate increases on water and sewer service to many county neighborhoods. The hearing regarding Blue Granite Water Company, held by the SC Public Service Commission (PSC) in Lexington County Monday evening, has infuriated most of their customers, especially after some of the company’s spending habits were brought up.
Blue Granite Water Company filed with the PSC for the rate increase in September. They have asked for water increases of35-55% and a 56% increase in sanitary sewer rates. Speakers from communities serviced by Blue Granite stepped to the mic to say they already pay plenty. As the residents complained, an executive from Blue Granite sat making notes of the issues people who spoke addressed.
Blue Granite executives say they need the rate increase to financing third party vendor expenses and make improvements to their aging system’s pipes, valves, pumps, plants, and other infrastructure. A spokesperson from Blue Granite said since their last rate increase, the company has spent roughly $23 million on their system making improvements.
One cost some said was completely unnecessary was the company’s name change from Carolina Water to Blue Granite. One irate citizen expressed his concern by saying, “New stickers for all their vehicles, new logos, billing forms, envelopes, and other paperwork all cost money! I wonder what they paid for the new logo to be designed or for changes in their website? If they want to change their name fine. I just don’t see why we need to be on the hook for any of that expense!”
Irmo’s newly elected Mayor Barry Walker had said prior to this week’s meeting that he can’t understand the infrastructure argument. “The sewer plant they had so many problems with near our town has been closed. All that wastewater is going through the Town of Lexington to Cayce’s Congaree River plant. Instead of having to take care of a sewer plant, they are just having to worry about some piping, valves and pumps. It would seem to me that this would be less expensive not more.” Mayor Walker said that the Town of Irmo is watching this case closely and will do anything possible to protect the interest of the people of that town.
Walker wasn’t the only politician showing an interest in Blue Granite’s request. Lexington County Senator Katrina Shealy was in attendance at the Monday meeting as was Representative Chris Wooten of Lexington. Both have complaints and more questions about Blue Granite’s request.
People will have another chance to tell the PSC and Blue Granite what they think of their request this week. Another meeting will be at the Irmo Municipal Building on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. That’s located at 7300 Woodrow Street in Irmo, SC.