Story updated Feb. 14, 5:25 p.m. with a statement from Southwest Water Company, parent company of Monarch Utilities
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is investigating the billing practices of water provider Monarch Utilities—which provides water to parts of western Pflugerville—according to a letter obtained by the City of Pflugerville.
The letter, dated Jan. 26, indicates the TCEQ would investigate claims of improper billing cycle changes by Monarch and refunds for late fees assessed due to shorter billing periods.
Pflugerville City Public Information Officer Terri Waggoner said the letter was provided to the city through its attorney and was released and posted on the city's website in response to similar customer complains in Pflugerville.
"We've had a lot of residents ask about [the billing cycle change]," Waggoner said.
The letter is addressed to a man in Quitman, Texas, who wrote in to complain about changes in his billing period and the associated late fees. It reads in part:
"Based on the bills attached to your letter, it appears Monarch may have changed its retail customer billing period. In response, the TCEQ has contacted Monarch and is investigating this issue. Also in your letter you expressed a concern regarding refunds for late fees assessed as a result of Monarch's shorter billing periods. The TCEQ has also been in contact with Monarch regarding this issue and is currently investigating this matter. We will contact you once this information is obtained."
The full text of the letter can be found here.
In response to this story and others, SouthWest Water Company, parent company of Monarch Utilities, issued the following statement:
"SouthWest Water Company, the parent company of Monarch Utilities, has been in communication with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) about this billing issue. It is being resolved, and to our knowledge, there is no investigation—current or imminent. If a customer is having a problem paying a bill on time, we ask the individual to call the customer care center listed on the monthly statement. We are always eager to work with our customers to ensure their access to clean, safe, reliable water and wastewater services, and we are committed to providing efficient customer service."
When contacted, the TCEQ confirmed they did indeed issue the letter and that there was indeed an investigation into the matter occurring.
Pflugerville is a party to a water rate case currently before the TCEQ concerning rate increases proposed at 62.3 percent higher for water and 33.6 percent higher for wastewater in the Monarch service area.
Monarch's application for a rate increase coincided with its application to purchase Windermere Utility Company, which serves about 4,962 residents in Pflugerville.
The Pflugerville City Council denied the increase in October, but the matter was handed off to the TCEQ, which has the final say.