The Commission does not have original or appellate jurisdiction over the rates charged by a county to customers for retail water or sewer service. Counties are also not required by the Texas Water Code or PUC’s rules to provide notice to customers of a rate change; however, most counties do provide some form of notice to their customers when changing their retail rates.
Customers that receive retail water or sewer service from a county must contact the elected county commissioners or county judge regarding customer service matters or to appeal a ratemaking decision by the county regarding their retail water or sewer rates. Counties may provide retail water or sewer service to customers without a CCN in areas where no other CCN provider is already serving.
The Commission has appellate jurisdiction over the rates charged by an affected county to customers for retail water or sewer service. If ten percent or 10,000 (whichever is less) of affected customers protest a ratemaking decision of an affected county, then the Commission can review the rates set by the affected county. Affected counties are required to provide notice to their customers of a decision to change the retail water or sewer rates.
The notice must include the old rates, the new rates, and the date the new rates take effect. The PUC recommends that customers be informed of their right to appeal. An affected county may change rates for retail water or sewer service without Commission approval, but must file a copy of the revised tariff with the Commission within 30 days after the effective date of the rate change.
An “affected county” means a county that has an economically distressed area which has a median household income that is not greater than 75 percent of the median state household income. An “affected county” is also defined in Texas Water Code §16.341(a) as a county that:
- has a per capita income that averaged 25 percent below the state average for the most recent three consecutive years for which statistics are available and an unemployment rate that averaged 25 percent above the state average for the most recent three consecutive years for which statistics are available;
- is adjacent to an international border; or
- is located in whole or in part within 100 miles of an international border and contains the majority of the area of a municipality with a population of more than 250,000.
Affected counties must obtain a CCN in order to provide retail water or sewer service.
- Are a water IOU or a non-profit WSC with fewer than 15 potential connections;
- Are not already located inside the service area of a CCN holder; and
- Provide only retail water service.
- You qualify to register as an exempt utility.
- To apply for an exemption of a water CCN, you must file an Application for an Exempt Utility Registration form.
- Note: there are no exemptions for sewer utilities with fewer than 15 potential connections.