Richmond City Council talks pros and cons of potential utility rate increase

Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities is proposing a utility rate increase to help pay for billions for repair and replacement costs.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 11:10 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities is proposing a utility rate increase to help pay for billions of repair and replacement costs.

DPU says it’s dealing with increasingly stringent regulations, and consumption is decreasing as customers are more mindful of bills. But aging infrastructure is the department’s major issue.

“One of the things that we deal with here in a city as old as Richmond is infrastructure that’s over 100 years old, so part of it is maintaining that infrastructure,” said Richmond City Councilor Katherine Jordan.

DPU estimates it has more than $2 billion in repair or replacement costs. That’s $916 million for wastewater. $760 million for natural gas. $680 million for water and $69 million for stormwater.

Richmond City Councilor Katherine Jordan says a potential rate increase would generate about $13.8 million yearly.

“I think it’s very important for council to understand what’s going into these proposed increases but also for our residents and businesses to understand,” said Councilor Jordan.

DPU says the typical bill increase, if you rely on all four utilities, would average $8.70 per month, with a standard bill totaling $220.16. But there are resources available.

“There are a lot of dollars right now available from both the federal government and through our city for people trying to get current on their bills or stay current,” said Councilor Jordan.

The city is also waiting on a potential $100 million cash infusion from the state to help deal with costs.

“Unfortunately, the city only has one or two options to get funding when we have massive infrastructure costs and needs such as this one. That is to go to the state and ask for funding and to raise utility rates,” said Stephanie Lynch, Richmond City Councilor.

Meanwhile, that $100 million in state funding is still hung up in a budget debate at the Virginia General Assembly.