State approves rise in Molokai water prices
The closure of ranch operations forces the increase in rates
WAILUKU » An estimated 1,200 residents in West Molokai can expect their water rates to nearly double and in some instances more than triple Sept. 1, under a state Public Utilities Commission decision.
The commission said it had to approve the rate increases in the face of a plan by Molokai Properties Ltd. to shut down water services.
"Under these dire circumstances, the commission has no choice but to approve the temporary rate increase as a stopgap measure," commission Chairman Carlito Caliboso said yesterday. "We need to do what we can to require the utilities to keep operating, at least temporarily, for the sake of the health and welfare of the people of West Molokai."
The commission said Molokai Public Utilities Inc. will increase its rates to $6.04 from $3.18 per 1,000 gallons, allowing it to raise an additional $398,687.
Waiola o Molokai Inc. will be able to raise its rates to $5.15 from $1.85 per 1,000 gallons, raising an additional $156,710 in revenues, the commission said.
The commission said the rate increase will be in effect for six months.
Commissioners denied a request for a rate increase by Mosco Inc., a regulated sewer utility serving Kaluakoi customers.
Molokai Properties, also known as Molokai Ranch, told the commission in March that it planned to shut down the three utilities if an entity was not found to take over the operations by the end of August.
The state has asked the ranch to continue operating for 90 days past its planned August shutdown.
The ranch virtually halted its commercial operations on Molokai in April, saying it was unable to continue to sustain losses without approval of its luxury housing development at Laau.