The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has decided that another company will take over operations for Sun Country Water Inc. after what one commissioner says is a “plethora” of customer complaints.
Sun Country has recently been under fire from customers for leaving Bend’s Saddleback neighborhood with water issues, pressure issues and needed repairs.
“A plethora of customer complaints and the issues that have been left un-addressed,” PUC Commissioner Mark Thompson said. “This seems really important for the Commission to exercise our full authority to try to protect customers under these circumstances.”
In June, a customer reported a leaking fire hydrant and water pressure issues. According to a PUC Staff Report, Sun Country did not repair the hydrant which “puts customers at risk of low water pressure, raising the potential health and safety issues as well as the reservoir running dry.” The commission contacted Avion Water Company to fix the issue, which the company did.
Sun Country has been regulated under a regent and under the eye of the PUC before. In 2012, customers complained about Sun Country’s billing practices. The company did not bill customers monthly using accurate meter readings, and the PUC appoint Avion Water Company to act as the regent of Sun Country for five years.
In 2018, Avion declined to continue as regent for Sun Country. Owner Dean “Butch” Rogers resumed operational control in September of that year while the PUC looked for another regent. However, during that time, the PUC found Rogers was complying with staff requests and met all requirements, so the regency was removed. Sun Country was still under some stipulations, including monthly meter readings and monthly billing in all months.
In 2022, customers complained that Sun Country was proposing to increase rates that exceeded the threshold set by the PUC. The monthly base fee was going to increase from $37.50 to $63.50 and usage rate would double from $1 per cubic foot to $2. A PUC Staff Report says that Sun Country also failed to bill customers monthly, was issued financial penalties from PUC, owed around $45,000 in taxes and was accused of owing a contractor for work done on a well.
PUC is now investigating other water companies owned by Rogers.