Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another RELAC Rate Hike?

Below is a report by Waterview Cluster's Dick Kennedy on the proposed RELAC rate Hike. See his comments to the State Corporation Commission here.
Greetings Neighbors,
As you may know a rating hearing occurred on RELAC on June 5, 2012 in Richmond VA before the State Corporation Commission [SCC]which regulates utilities in Virginia. I drove down and testified as a user upset with the unreasonably high cost of the system and its effectiveness. I have attached my comments outline from which I spoke. The hearing lasted from about 1000 AM until 330 PM. It was tedious but I am glad I went to get a sense of the communication between AQUA and the Judge for the SCC.

The bottom line is that the SCC Staff and AQUA agreed by stipulation to a rate increase reduced from AQUA's request of $ 108,775 to $ 78,000 or close to a 15% increase that will be in effect as an interim rate for the rest of 2012. The county staff questioned AQUA at length and in detail on performance output by AQUA's records and AQUA's records on customer complaints. There were clear deficiencies. On the matter of using Cooling Towers which I asked about, AQUA responded that they have not decided yet to in stall them. They said it would cost $ 250,000 to $ 400,000 installed. It may be that AQUA America owns them and they would sell them to AQUA RELAC.

Who knows what lies ahead with RELAC??

The case, PUE-2011-00130 can be tracked on line at

Dick Kennedy


  1. Thanks for going down for the hearing to represent us. RELAC is a great concept and was way ahead of it's time but needs help obviously.

    I can't help thinking we need to push the idea on Aqua that this system is very green and would make the perfect crown jewel of good corporate social responsibility. Impress upon them that they can really turn RELAC into a showcase for environmentally friendly sustainable development if they do the right thing with us. Fix the system, reduce the rates, and get customers satisfied.

    Then invite the Post, DWELL, and other progressive publications to write pieces on the system coinciding with our 50 year anniversary.

    We need to push them on this or decide once and for all to scrap it altogether. But personally, I'd like to see it reach it's potential and keep the neighborhood quiet and as clutter-free as possible.

  2. Very well said Raymond.

    I would also like to see an improved showcase system cover heating as well as A/C. True geothermal does both.

    I don't know what it will take to get Aqua on board with this but I am open to ideas and approaching them again. Right now RELAC seems to be less than an afterthought to a company that is not in the A/C or geothermal business.

    To date, they have DRB approval for plans to add cooling towers to the roof of the RELAC plant to improve service but haven't responded to emails asking if they are going forward with the project.

  3. For those interested is seeing how RELAC's chilled water supply has been performing over time, one resident in Orchard Lane has set up a website which tracks outdoor temperature, incoming chilled water temperature, and the temperature specified in the tariff (as outdoor temp. rises, RELAC is supposed to cool the supply water to a lower temperature). The yellow line is the temperature specified in the tariff, and the green line is the temperature of the incoming RELAC water.
    The database also lets you display the performance on days when the outdoor temperature was over 90 deg. F. The database dates from June 8, 2011.

    Thanks to Dick Kennedy in Waterview Cluster for alerting us to this resource.

    Fred Swartzendruber

  4. This is absolutely brilliant.

    We are hitting some 90 degree days currently and I am watching the tariff rate dip below the supplied rate on Dick Kennedy's monitor.

    This wonderful site finally gives us data to prove that Aqua isn't providing homes with the service that we pay for and they aren't cooling the water more to compensate for the higher temperatures which leads to sweltering homes.

    Dick - if you would like more data from other households I am more than willing to install this in my home.

  5. Can't access this resourse using Is this correct?

  6. John,

    The monitoring is done by Shelby Dreyer in Orchard Lane; I got the link from Dick Kennedy who mentioned this at the recent hearing in Richmond. I have been in touch with Mr. Dreyer about setting up a network of RELAC customers who would be interested in participating. I will keep you informed of progress.

    Fred Swartzendruber

  7. Try:

  8. Here's an example, from May 29, when the system failed shortly before 9pm:

  9. As of 3:30pm today (Thursday June 21, 2012) the temperature of the incoming RELAC water on the Orchard Lane monitoring site has climbed to 50 deg. F., which is 7 degrees above the temperature specified in the tariff.

  10. The RELAC machinery is really huffin and puffin this morning. Sounds like an aircraft warming up on the runway.

  11. Friday evening (July 13) a second diesel pump set was being installed and pipes were being lowered into the lake.

    The monitoring site in Orchard Lane shows another failure of the system around 10am, with RELAC chilled water temp. spiking to 61 F. (14 degrees over tariff specification) before beginning to drop. As of 6:30pm water temp. was 51 F., 4 degrees over the tariff spec.

    Fred S.



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