Home » Uncategorized » Memo to Lakeland Ledger
Nov
01

Dear Mr. Palmer,

After we last spoke, it was my understanding that the Ledger was planning to cover the Customer Meeting regarding the proposed rate increase brought forward by Aqua Utilities.  The meeting was held on 10/28 at the Lakeland City Hall, at 6:00 PM in the City Commission Chambers..  I have been scouring the Ledger since that time, but have seen no mention of the meeting being covered.

You should know that the meeting lasted over three and a half hours because so many Aqua customers felt compelled to speak out.  The Office of Public Council was there on behalf of the Citizenry.  They provided an analysis of the proposed rate hike which showed a comparison of the current state of the rates with the proposed increase.  Depending on usage, water (which already costs several times the price of other utilities in the area) is proposed to increase anywhere from 84.45% to 160.41%, depending on the quantity used.  Similarly, the already over-priced sewer service will go up in the range of 57.26% to 124.7%, also quantity dependent.  These figures were provided by the Office of Public Counsel, 111 W. Madison St, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1400.  They paint a drastically different picture than the information provided by Aqua prior to the meeting.

Examples of Aqua Utilities substandard customer service, inflated pricing and predatory business model were all brought up in testimony, and a great many documents were submitted to the docket (#100330-WS) to support these opinions.  Some people brought into question the ethics of the PSC Board of Commissioners and their relationship with this utility company.  Working on behalf of Aqua was Troy Rendell, a former 20 year employee of the PSC.  Allegations were submitted that Mr. Rendell’s opportunity with Aqua and the timing and scope of the previous approved rate increase were not coincidental.

The meeting was standing room only.  It is interesting to note that while members of the Technical Staff of the PSC were in attendance, Commissioner Nathan Skop was the only PSC Commissioner in attendance.

This meeting was a pretty big deal, and very important news for people in the affected areas.  While I am grateful that the Ledge ran a short column prior to the meeting to get the word out, I am disappointed that the Ledger did not see fit to cover the meeting itself or run any stories about what took place.

If you would like to review any of the information I collected at the meeting, please contact me and I will share it with you.

Sincerely,

Mike Brenner

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