The Liberty Utilities rate case is one step closer to a hearing. The utility company has been in a back and forth with the Public Utility Commission of Texas since October when an administrative law judge twice found the company’s rate change application deficient and incomplete.
On Wednesday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas staff recommended the commission deem the company’s rate change application administratively complete.
The staff’s second recommendation was that the commission should modify the proposed effective date of Jan. 1, 2017 to Feb. 1, 2017 and suspend that date, meaning the proposed rates would not go into effect then.
The staff also recommended Liberty Woodmark and Liberty Tall Timbers provide revised notices of their proposed rate increases to affected customers by Dec. 12.
Liberty Woodmark and Liberty Tall Timbers can request interim rates during the suspension period, according to the document.
Finally, the commission staff requested the commission refer the proceeding to the State Office of Administrative Hearings to address factual disputes.
Either an administrative law judge at the Public Utility Commission or the three-person commission will review the staff recommendations and make a decision.
In September, the utility company proposed rate changes that would more than triple some customers’ monthly wastewater bills by next year.
Since that time, more than 1,000 customers have filed protests with the state commission, and the Office of Public Utility Counsel in Austin has committed to represent the interests of Smith County customers in this case.
The city of Tyler is working on behalf of Liberty Utility customers who live inside Tyler city limits.