If Tennessee American Water is confident about its proposed rate hike, why not give ratepayers access to its books to see exactly how the money will be spent.
Should they pay for lawyers arguing in favor of the rate hike? Should they pay for the mailers they receive from Tennessee American justifying the rate hike? Should they pay for salaries of American Water executives in Voorhees, New Jersey and RWE executives in Germany?
Transparency would go a long way toward getting ratepayer acceptance of the rate hike.
The downside of not paying "attention to anything but what was said in a courtroom", as Lynn Greer is quoted as saying, is that regulators ignore public sentiment on water rate hike issues.
Out here in Felton California, we had hundreds of people turn out at community meetings in our town hall to voice opposition to rate hikes proposed by California-American Water. Only later did we learn that nothing said at those meetings - hosted by the state Public Utilities Commission - had an impact on the regulators' decision. The public meetings, we were told, were just to give people a sense that they had a say in the process.
We opted to buy our system from American Water - against their will. We take possession of it on August 27. You can read about it here: http://www.feltonflow.org .