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News Release
Commission Opens Investigation Of Central Oregon Water Company
May 1, 2001 (2001 - 019)
Contacts:  Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – The Oregon Public Utility has decided to open an investigation into the operations, service quality, and the consideration of the rate structure for Juniper Utility Company (JUC), which provides water and sewer services to approximately 1,000 customers in southeast Bend.
On April 18, 2001, in response to five letters and 29 informal complaints received by the Commission regarding the quality of service provided by Juniper Utility Company, the Commission sent a letter to JUC customers stating that an investigation into the quality of JUC's utility services would be opened. The five letters received from housing associations represent approximately 501 JUC customers.
Several of the letters to the Commission raise the possibility of higher water rates if it was deemed necessary to assure quality service.
The letters highlight a number of potential service quality issues including the number of JUC's trained and experienced staff, water pressure in potable lines, home wastewater tank inspections and pump replacement, and inspections of backflow valves on the irrigation system.
It is possible that the investigation may reveal the need for additional rate changes.
The Commission decided to open an investigation because it lacks the authority to make decisions on service quality or rates based solely on assertions in letters received by the Commission. It needs either a filing for a rate increase from a utility or the Commission must start its own process. Juniper has not yet made a rate filing, so the Commission is taking the initiative by opening an investigation.
The investigation will be a formal proceeding. Parties may conduct discovery, present and cross-examine witnesses, offer exhibits and, at the conclusion of the proceedings, submit written arguments.
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