APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon.
BIRCH E. MORGAN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SOLFISBURG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied January 24, 1966.
This is an appeal from the circuit court of Champaign County confirming an order of the Illinois Commerce Commission which permanently suspended and cancelled a tariff application of the plaintiff and ordered the deletion of certain language from a prior tariff. The issues involve the manner of charging for water consumption by certain types of apartment complexes.
The plaintiff is a private water utility serving water consumers in the Champaign-Urbana area. In common with many other water utilities, the charges per gallon or per cubic foot decrease as the quantities of water used increase. The rate schedules are systematized to what are commonly referred to as "blocks", by which means the charge per cubic foot decreases in four steps from $.70 per 100 cubic feet for the first water consumed to $.145 per 100 cubic feet for all water consumed after 200,000 cubic feet. There are intermediate blocks at $.58, $.37 and $.19, all per 100 cubic feet.
The issues here involved relate to the manner of billing certain apartment complexes which are not serviced by common hallways and which have only one water meter for the entire complex. If billed as a single consumer the volume of water consumed will reduce the price per gallon, taking advantage of the block volume discounts. It is Northern's request and contention that they should be allowed to bill the types of apartment complexes here involved by multiplying the amounts of water in each block by the number of individual apartment units served before applying the block system, thereby increasing the amount of water to be consumed before giving discount rates.
It is the plaintiff's contention that as a water utility it must take into consideration the factors of peak demand and load capacity, that large industrial users have a more constant rate of consumption than residential users who collectively tend to make use of the water supply at the same time, thereby placing certain stresses and requirements on the water utility's capacity and distribution facilities. The plaintiff, in its tariff application, made a distinction between apartment complexes and office buildings which have common hallways and those which do not, contending that buildings with common hallways have a tendency to contain large numbers of smaller apartments which have better peak and load factors than larger apartments which tend to be in complexes of separate buildings.
On January 16, 1964, Northern filed, as an addition to its tariff, its Original Sheet No. 1A, which provided as follows:
"If, at the request of or for the convenience of the owner of a property containing more than one customer as defined in the Rules, Regulations, and Conditions of Service of the Company (Ill. C.C. No. 1 Original Sheet No. 5), water is furnished to said property through a single meter, the size of each block in the foregoing schedule shall be multiplied by the number of customers, as so defined, served through such single meter. For such property the minimum bill or charge set forth above for a 5/8" meter shall likewise be multiplied by the number of customers, as so defined, served and the product thereof shall be the minimum bill for such property. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Company reserves the right at any time to require the installation of a meter for each customer, as so defined, served through such single meter."
The Original Sheet No. 5 referred to in Original Sheet No. 1A defined "customer" or "consumer" as follows:
"(a) A building under one roof owned by one party and occupied by one person or family as a residence, or
"(b) A building under one roof owned by one party and occupied by one person, firm or corporation as one business, or
"(c) A combination of buildings in one common enclosure owned by one party and occupied by one person or family as a residence, or
"(d) A combination of buildings in one common enclosure owned by one party and occupied by one person, firm or ...