Navajo Tribal Utility Authority plans to propose rate increases

FORT DEFIANCE -- Based on a utility rate study and the cost of inflation, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority will propose to adjust rates for water, wastewater treatment and natural gas services.

Late last year, NTUA initiated a rate study to review utility base rates for electricity, water, wastewater treatment and natural gas services. Following the study, it was determined that NTUA should adjust rates for water, wastewater treatment and natural gas services due to the rising deficit and revenue shortfalls created by growth, demand, and inflation. The last time NTUA increased utility rates was in 1992.

"For years, we have worked hard to keep the utility rates as they are today," said NTUA Acting General Manager Kenneth L. Craig. "However, we are finding it difficult to fulfill our mission to provide quality and reliable services when we are seeing continual increases in equipment, materials, maintenance and labor. It is just costing more to do business every year."

Based upon the rate study and a financial analysis, NTUA management is proposing to have the following rates become effective this September:

• An average 43 percent increase for water (residential customers 38 percent or $8.40 more per month).

• A 37 percent increase for wastewater treatment services (residential customers 37 percent or $4.03 more per month).

• A 24 percent increase for natural gas (residential customers 15 percent or $5.51 more per month).

For water and wastewater, NTUA will be seeking to implement a percentage of the proposed increase in three six-month phases. With natural gas, the plan is to seek the 24 percent increase in one step.

Throughout July, each NTUA district office will present detailed information relating to the proposed rates during a series of public forums, including financial reasons why NTUA is recommending the utility base rate adjustments. The dates of the public forums will be widely announced once locations are confirmed. NTUA is encouraging customer comment and invites residential and commercial customers to attend the public forums.

The findings and recommendations collected at the public forums and any additional public comment will be presented to the NTUA Management Board at a formal public hearing set for Aug. 17. It is at this formal public hearing where the board will make a final decision on any utility rate adjustments.

NTUA was established in 1959 by the Navajo Tribal Council as a tribal department -- then later, in 1966 - as a self-sustaining tribal enterprise to provide utility services to the Navajo People. Since then, NTUA has developed into a multi-utility enterprise providing electricity, water, wastewater treatment, natural gas and solar power to residents throughout the Navajo Nation.

Today, NTUA, a not-for-profit company, delivers electricity to 37,426 homes, extends water to 32,701 homes, provides wastewater treatment services to 12,906 homes and supplies natural gas to 7,255 homes.

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