Mullery calls on PUC to reject American Water rate increase

HARRISBURG, April 30 – Citing the health pandemic and economic crisis residents are facing across the commonwealth, state Rep. Gerald Mullery is urging the Public Utility Commission to reject the $138.6 million rate hike sought by Pennsylvania American Water.

“We are truly living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the daily lives of every Pennsylvanian. Nearly 50,000 of our neighbors have been diagnosed with the virus, nearly 3,000 are currently hospitalized, and nearly 2,500 have died. My county, Luzerne, has been hit especially hard by this virus with over 2,000 cases and one of the highest positive test rates in the commonwealth,” Mullery wrote in a letter to PUC Commissioner Ralph V. Yanora, who lives in Pittston.

“Moreover, on the eve of May, a record 1.6 million workers across our state have applied for unemployment benefits. Many of these 1.6 million neighbors filed as early as mid-March and have yet to receive a single distribution. The Department of Labor & Industry’s failure to establish a working system for those seeking Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has only added to the problem our friends and families are experiencing.

“I understand the challenges faced by our utility providers. I commend Pennsylvania American Water and others who have taken extraordinary steps to protect our fellow Pennsylvanians during this difficult time. That said, I cannot sit idly by and silent as they seek to increase rates upon our citizens and struggling commercial and industrial neighbors.

“Now is not the time to consider placing an additional burden on those already experiencing difficulty meeting their financial responsibilities. Now is not the time to add to the stress and anxiety of an already overextended population. Now is certainly not the time approve any change which will result in Pennsylvanians having to choose between life’s necessities.

“I urge you and the commission to consider all that Pennsylvanians are currently facing. I respectfully request you deny Pennsylvania American Water’s proposed rate increase,” Mullery concluded his letter.