2015 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part I

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For the past few months, I’ve been conducting the 2015 Utility Fee Survey, an update to the original Utility Fee Survey published three years ago. The survey was designed to research what fees utilities charge, how much they charge for each fee and to see what changes have taken place over the last three years.

As was the case in 2012, the results include too much information for a single issue. If you’re interested, here are the results from the 2012 Utility Fee Survey:

2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part I

2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part II

2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part III

This is the first of three consecutive Utility Information Pipelines publishing the results of the 2015 Utility Fee Survey.

Demographics of survey respondents

106 utilities, representing 19 states, ranging in size from 83 to 90,000 active accounts participated in the survey. Refer to the charts of the various demographic data below:

Tap fees and impact fees

The survey started with water and sewer tap and impact fees. There are a couple key distinctions to keep in mind when comparing tap and impact fees.

Tap fees should recover the cost of making the actual water or sewer tap. This includes direct costs such as labor, materials and vehicle use as well as any indirect costs associated with completing the tap. Tap fees are classified as operating revenues.

Impact fees, sometimes called availability fees or system development charges, are designed to cover the incremental capital cost of adding an additional user to the water or sewer system. Impact fees are classified as non-operating revenues.

For utilities charging an impact fee based on number of bedrooms, monthly or daily usage, I assumed three bedrooms or 3,000 gallons per month.

Residential water tap fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $20.00 to $8,000.00 as shown below:

Two other utilities charge the actual time and materials cost incurred for a residential water tap.

Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer tap fees ranging from $50.00 to $10,000.00 as depicted by this graph:

Two other utilities charge the actual time and materials cost incurred for a residential sewer tap and one charges time and materials plus $350.00.

Residential water impact fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $25.00 to $25,754.00 as shown in this graph:

Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer impact fees ranging from $350.00 to $21,600.00 as shown here:

Upcoming issues

Part II – August 4, 2015

The next issue will deal with delinquent account fees and policies, including late fees, cut-off fees and after hours reconnect fees.

Part III – August 18, 2015

The final survey results issue showcases any remaining fees, including application, returned check, meter reread, meter tampering and convenience fees.

 

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