Austin Water, a city utility, reviews its water rates every seven years to ensure fairness and equity among all customers. In the 2016-17 review, the Utility focused on the split between retail and wholesale customers in the wake of a legal challenge to its water rates filed by four wholesalers. The petition to the state regulator posed special challenges for the two stakeholder groups created as part of the Utility’s rate review process.
Laura Raun Public Relations, as part of a consultant team, was selected by Austin Water to facilitate the two stakeholder groups that provided input for the water rate review. A methodical process was developed to elicit meaningful feedback, including a decision-point matrix that focused input on actionable topics.
In additional, a Public Involvement Plan was developed to that the public received timely and accurate information about the rate review process.
The 15-month rate review process enabled Austin Water to recommend to City Council and state regulator a set of defensible water rate proposals that reflected community input.