HARRISBURG, Pa. -

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Wednesday approved a settlement for a lower rate increase than requested by the City of Bethlehem for customers living outside of the city limits who receive water from the city.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve the settlement for an annual increase of $350,000 (4.7 percent). The city’s original proposal was for an increase of $1,119,726 (15 percent). The settlement was reached between the City of Bethlehem – Bureau of Water, the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement, the Office of Consumer Advocate and the Office of Small Business Advocate.

Under the settlement, the average annual residential bill for customers using 14,000 gallons per quarter would increase from $80.27 to $84.47 (5.2 percent) per quarter. Under the city’s original proposal, the bill would have increased to $95.04 (18.4 percent) per quarter.

The rate increase affects approximately 13,000 residential customers outside of the city, in portions of Salisbury, Upper Saucon and Hanover townships; the Borough of Fountain Hill in Lehigh County; Lower Saucon, Bethlehem, Hanover, East Allen and Allen townships; and the Borough of Freemansburg in Northampton County.