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PUC OKs Hana Water System refund proposal

The Maui News

Hana Water Systems’ proposal to refund nearly $17,000 to customers who were overcharged for water services was approved Friday by the state Public Utilities Commission.

It gave the utility 60 days to make the refunds.

The company overcharged 178 customers in September and December last year by implementing higher rates for some customers before they were supposed to take effect.

Hana Water Systems proposed refunds totaled $16,943. Most of the refunds, $9,116, were for 100 customers in its north service area including Hana Airport and residents in Hana Agricultural Park. The other $7,828 in refunds would go to 78 customers in its south service area including Hana town, Travaasa Hana Hotel, Hasegawa General Store and the post office.

In orders dated Friday, the commission approved the utility’s refund proposal.

Last year, the commission approved Hana Water Systems’ request to increase its rates in phases over the next four years, starting Oct. 1. Each new phase was approved to take effect on Jan. 1 every year through 2022.

The commission stepped in after receiving a complaint alleging that the company had used the higher October rates in determining a north area customer’s water use for September.

The company said that its standard billing practice is to read customer meters at or around the last three days of a given month and bill the month’s usage by the 15th of the following month.

The commission ruled against the company and clarified that “the ‘effective date’ of a tariff is the date upon which a public utility may charge the rates reflected in the tariff for services it provides from that point forward.” It said that Hana Water Systems’ claim that the rates should be used in computing bills issued on or after the date of the increase (even if the bill was for a month prior to the increase) “is inconsistent” with past court rulings.