Annual Report of Water and Wastewater Rates and Rate Structures in North Carolina - January 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Chris Nida (NC League of Municipalities)

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This annual report details the results of a statewide survey of water and wastewater rates and rate structures conducted by the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the Environmental Finance Center in 2017. Residential and non-residential drinking water and wastewater rates and rate structures are analyzed for 441 local government and non-governmental water and wastewater utilities throughout the State of North Carolina. The report is one of several products (including an interactive Rates Dashboard, data tables, and utility rate sheet summaries) created at the conclusion of the annual survey. All of the products can be viewed on the project page shown below.


This report answers frequently asked questions about what utilities are charging, their rate structure designs, billing practices, rate increases, affordability and cost recovery, including:

  • Tools for Comparisons
    • How many and which utilities and types of rates are analyzed in this report?
    • Where can I find tools and tables I can use to help me evaluate our rates?
  • Four Myths about Rates
    • Myth #1: Higher rates are bad.
    • Myth #2: Comparing rates is simple.
    • Myth #3: Pricing is simple.
    • Myth #4: Promoting conservation requires increasing block rate structures.
  • Current Rate Structure Designs
    • What are the utilities’ base charges, and consumption allowances?
    • What are the most common rate structure types in North Carolina?
    • How do rate structures differ between commercial and residential customers?
    • How do rate structures differ between indoor and irrigation/outdoor rates?
    • For block rate structures, how much consumption is included in the first block?
    • How much do utilities charge per 1,000 gallons near the average consumption level?
    • What does the State recommend for residential rate structures?
  • Current Rates
    • How much is charged for residential consumption?
    • How much is charged for commercial consumption?
    • How much is charged for residential irrigation water?
    • How do rates differ based on utility size, utility type or river basin?
    • How do rates differ for customers inside or outside municipal boundaries?
  • Rate Changes Over Time
    • How often do utilities change their rates?
    • How have residential rate structures changed in recent years?
  • Affordability
    • What does the average North Carolinian pay for water and/or wastewater service?
    • How affordable are utility rates in North Carolina?
  • Promoting Conservation
    • What can utilities do with rates to encourage conservation?
  • Financial Sustainability
    • Are utilities financially self-sufficient in North Carolina?