It really makes me frustrated that the local media isn’t covering the Cal Water rate increase. Here’s a story from the Marysville Appeal Democrat, regarding the Marysville rate case, which is separate from the Chico rate case. I have no news on the Chico rate case. When I asked David Little if he could find out more information on this rate increase he responded, “I don’t know if we’re doing anything on Cal Water?” [sic]
PUC to consider Cal Water rate hike
The decision, which addresses proposed rate hikes in water systems operated by Cal Water throughout the state, must still be considered by the state Public Utilities Commission. The commission will take up the proposed increase on Aug. 14.
Cal Water spokesman Justin Skarb said if the PUC adopts the agreement, new water utility rates will become effective a few days later. The company has said it needs the increase to keep up with increased costs and state-mandated capital improvements.
Under the proposed decision, a typical residential customer in Marysville using about 9,724 gallons of water per month will have charges totaling about $43.65, up from $39.36.
The increase, stemming from a company’s 2012 application, was initially expected to be completed in time to be imposed last Jan. 1. Since it wasn’t, customers will see a surcharge on their bills to reflect the “under-collection of revenue” since Jan. 1, Skarb said.
“To lessen the impact on customers, the surcharge will be spread out over a period of 12 months, and is likely to be less than 25 cents per unit of water used by customers,” Skarb said in a statement. “Those figures could change, however, if the commission does not adopt the proposed decision, or otherwise modifies it.”
The settlement agreement between Cal Water and the state Office of Ratepayer Advocates last November effectively ended a public campaign in Marysville by residents opposed to the hike. Yuba County supervisors, the Marysville Joint Unified School District and the Marysville City Council also opposed the increase.
The 10.16 percent increase for 2014 is below the 14.1 percent increase recommended by the Office of Ratepayer Advocates. It was believed the increase would fall somewhere between the 34.8 percent Cal Water was asking and what Ratepayer Advocates was recommending.
The increase also includes funds needed for the $2 million relocation of water mains along portions of Highways 20 and 70 to accommodate Caltrans’ ongoing roadway project.
CONTACT Eric Vodden at 749-4769.
I think Marysville got a good decision because they made a very loud protest, as did Oroville. They were actually named on the documents as a “party,” and they got regular updates on the case from the CPUC. I don’t even know how to register myself as a “party.” When I tried to talk to the folks in Sacramento, they told me that if I wanted to be taken seriously and be heard at all by the commissioners (or even their receptionists), I’d have to drive to San Francisco to attend meetings, pay out of my own pocket to stay overnight because the meetings went on over days, sometimes over the weekend. Otherwise I could just sit home and wait for the rate increase notice, retroactive to January 2014, in my bill. I had no posse behind me, no group willing to make phone calls, spend hours searching and networking for information, attend meetings or help to write or sign letters.
Chico has been pretty limp-wristed here. There was a big hoo-rah in the beginning, back in March 2013, when a packed room of pissed off jerks greeted the CPUC representative who monitored the hearing. Oh yeah, you guys gave little Darwin a real pants-ful. And then you folded up and went home and hung your testicles on the wall next to your Mickey Mouse badge and cap gun.
Just lately I’ve seen a letter about WRAM – well, how do you do? Let’s get together and write a formal, group letter to the CPUC before they make their final decision. I’m willing to book the library room to work on something, let me know if you’re interested.
If we don’t make some kind of noise, we might actually get the 38 percent increase Cal Water proposed to begin with. Cal Water rep Justin Skarb acts as though Cal Water is being shorted here, that we’re just getting oodles of free water. We have to tell the CPUC about the notice we got – read here – about $1.5 million just for salaries, pensions, and benefits, and another $395,000 for “quality employees“, whatever the hell that means:
“Cal Water is proposing this change in rates due to the following factors:
- Cal Water is requesting $556,000 to retain the same level of employee health care, pensions, and retiree health care benefits for General Office personnel, the costs of which have increased faster than inflation.
- Cal Water is requesting $423,000 to retain for district personnel the same level of employee benefits described above
- Cal Water is requesting $415,000 for the allocation of General Office operation expenses
- Cal Water is requesting $395,000 to retain quality employees in the district
- Cal Water is requesting $163,000 for water infrastructure improvements between 2013 and 2016
Remember, this is a proposal, the CPUC still needs to make a decision.