5th Annual Water Finance Conference Welcomes Sonny Popowsky as Keynote Speaker

Philadelphia’s water rate board chair and former Pennsylvania consumer advocate to discuss rate setting, affordability challenges


Sonny Popowsky

Irwin A. “Sonny” Popowsky, chair of the City of Philadelphia’s Water, Sewer & Storm Water Rate Board, will kick off the fifth annual Water Finance Conference as the keynote speaker on the morning of Aug. 21 in Washington, D.C. The 2019 Water Finance Conference will be held at the Washington Court Hotel Aug. 21-22.

Popowsky served as the Consumer Advocate of Pennsylvania from 1990 to 2012, having begun his career at the state’s Office of Consumer Advocate in 1979.

In November 2012, Philadelphia voted to amend the city’s Home Rule Charter to allow city council to establish an independent body, the Philadelphia Water, Sewer & Storm Water Rate Board, to replace the Water Department as the entity responsible for setting water, wastewater and stormwater rates. This Rate Ordinance became effective in January 2014 and Popowsky was selected by a city council vote to chair the rate board. In 2018, it voted to reconfirm Popowsky to serve an additional five-year term as chair.

At the Water Finance Conference, Popowsy’s talk will delve into the city’s decision to establish the rate board, actions to date and the public response. Notably, in 2017, the City of Philadelphia made headlines when it launched a new pricing model for the Philadelphia Water Department aimed at assisting low income residents. Popowsky will discuss this, as well as the impact of Philadelphia’s response to the broader water affordability issue facing municipalities across the country.

In addition to the rate board, Popowsky also serves on the executive committee of the Advisory Council to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the advisory board of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, the Boards of Directors of the Energy Coordinating Agency, the Sustainable Energy Fund and Regional Housing Legal Services, and as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Consumer Advisory Council.

In 1988, Popowsky briefed and argued the United States Supreme Court case of Duquesne Light Company v. Barasch, in which the court upheld the position of the OCA that two Pennsylvania electric utilities had no constitutional right to charge consumers for the costs of four cancelled nuclear power plants. Popowsky graduated Cum Laude from Yale University and received his J.D. Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an Associate Editor of the Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

The Water Finance Conference is produced by the journal Water Finance & Management in partnership with the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). The conference is geared toward executive-level utility professionals including managers, directors, CEOs, CFOs, consultants and municipal advisors involved in the fields of water, wastewater and stormwater. Now in its fifth year, the 2019 event will be held at the Washington Court Hotel near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Aug. 21-22.

Seating is limited and attendees can earn CEUs and CPEs. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Email Brittany Cline for more information. Click here to view the complete agenda.

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