The Pennsylvania Utilities Commission has approved the $53 million purchase of Lower Makefield Township's water system by Aqua Pennsylvania, a water utility that serves more than 1.4 million residents in 32 counties throughout the state.
The commission approved the sale 3-0, during its meeting Thursday morning. The vote was the final hurdle Aqua needed to clear in order for the sale to go through.
"We are planning to close on the acquisition on March 4, and at that point, we will become the owner of Lower Makefield Township's sewer asset," said Aqua Pennsylvania President Marc Lucca. "Between now and then, we are going to hire three new people to work with us and begin to map customer billing and customer service, so when customers do come on board, they should notice no difference in their wastewater management."
More on Aqua acquisition: In contentious vote, Lower Makefield nets $53M for its sewer system
Lower Makefield Township's Board of Supervisors approved the sale in August 2020, and Aqua applied to the commission for the acquisition in May 2021.
As previously reported, the following month, the Commission agreed to review the company's application to approve the sale of the sewer system the township approved last August.
Township officials decided to sell the system to help pay off a $17.8 million debt related to the township-owned golf course and raise Lower Makefield's Moody's bond rating that was downgraded in 2019.
While Aqua isn't proposing any rate changes in the application, it asked the PUC to add the new sewer system servicing 11,151 new customers to its rate base.
Down payment: Lower Makefield gets $3M down payment on $53M sewer sale
The current average Lower Makefield residential rate is $74.32 per month based on 4,700 gallons of usage.
Aqua told township officials in 2020 that sewer rates would remain flat for three years. They projected monthly rates at an estimat$86 from 2025 to 2027 and $96 from 2028 to 2030. The rates are based off usage of 4,000 gallons per month.
Lower Makefield Manager Kurt Ferguson was unavailable for comment.
"We are looking forward to providing excellent customer service with integrity and respect," Lucca said. "And we will provide that service, mindful of all times to protect not only protect the health of the communities we serve, but the environment as well.
"That is the most important thing I would like customers to know."
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Pennsylvania PUC approves sale of Lower Makefield sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania