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What’s Happening In PA

Most residents in the United States obtain their water and wastewater service locally, either with private well and septic systems, or from locally owned and controlled utilities. This is changing, as large investor-owned Big Water companies have recognized they can extract profits by buying up and consolidating small locally owned systems.


BIG Water Picture.jpg

$65,000,000 leaves

the PA economy

annually to fund

Big Water Profits. 

Growth through acquisition is a key component of Big Water's strategy. For these companies, earnings are directly related to investment. Investment in the purchase of a public utility leads to immediate profits.  More on the profitability of these Big Water companies. 

Pennsylvania has become a hot bed for water and wastewater privatization. Two of the largest private for-profit utility companies targeting PA are headquartered near Philadelphia.

The PA legislature is heavily lobbied by Big Water companies, resulting in the passage of privatization friendly legislation, legislation which favors the growth and profitability of these companies at the expense of the ratepayers (LINK).  For example:

#1 - These companies are allowed to extract substantially more profits in PA than in other states they serve.

#2 - Currently $65 million/year leaves the PA economy to fund Big Water company profits.

The PA Public Utilities Commission consistently favors privatization expansion and rate increases. The PUC will sponsor the required public hearings before an Administrative Law Judge before ruling on a sale or rate increase, but it has routinely overruled the ALJ's recommendation (future link) and allowed the utility request.

The major driver of the current frenzy of privatization in PA is legislation passed and signed into law by the governor in 2016, Act 12, the so called “Fair Market” Act. Act 12 should be called the “Predatory Pricing” Act for it allows local municipalities to negotiate an inflated price for its utility, leaving the bill for the rate payer. To understand Act 12 and its impact click here.

With the deck stacked against them due to the complicity of the state legislature and the PUC, the ratepayer has little recourse. Although some legislators recognize that privatization does not benefit the ratepayer or the state economy and have introduced legislation beneficial to rate payers, this legislation always dies in committee. The best recourse for rate payers is to recognize when a takeover is threatened, understand the consequences, and pressure local politicians. To do this you will need to understand the Big Water takeover playbook.  Then you will need to organize and take action. For help follow this link. 

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