Butte Supers write another protest letter over Cal Water rate hike – the leaders are leading, now the people need to follow

7 Apr

I’m sorry I haven’t posted this sooner – the Butte County Board of Supervisors has sent another protest letter over Cal Water’s proposed rate hike. 

March 25, 2014 

Ms. Karen Miller
Public Advisor, California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2103
San Francisco, California 94102
RE: California Water Service Company General Rate Case
Dear Ms. Miller:
On behalf of the Butte County Board of Supervisors, I am writing to express concern over the proposed increase
filed by California Water Service Company (Cal Water). Butte County is served by two Cal Water service districts,
Chico and Oroville, with customers of each facing proposed increases of more than 26%. The Office of Ratepayer
Advocates proposed alternate rate increases of 7.2% for Chico and 16.1% for Oroville in March of last year, but
those rates are not reflected in the proposed rate case settlement.
The unemployment rate in Butte County at the end of January, 2014 was 10.0%. Although that rate has improved in
the past year, it continues to exceed that of the State of California and the United States as a whole. New home
construction may be on the rise throughout the rest of the State but that trend has not extended to Butte County.
While our local economy is finally showing some signs of improvement, it remains extremely vulnerable to events
affecting local spending and consumer prices. Our community can ill afford the negative long-term impacts of the
proposed Cal Water rate increases.
It is our hope that the Public Utilities Commission will assist the thousands of Butte County citizens and businesses
facing economic hardship by adopting more reasonable and affordable rates in the Chico and Oroville Water Service
Districts served by Cal Water.
Thank you for your consideration.
Doug Teeter, Chair
Butte County Board of Supervisors
cc: Members, Butte County Board of Supervisors
The Honorable Brian Dahle, Member of California State Assembly
The Honorable Dan Logue, Member of California State Assembly
The Honorable Jim Nielsen, Member of California State Senate
Paul Yoder, Strategic Local Government Services, LLC
Joe Como, Office of Ratepayer Advocates

The other good news is, while the decision was supposed to be made in January and we might already be paying that 38 percent proposed increase, the commission is still out. I’m guessing, the various protests have been getting through, and these commissioners and their hangers-on have realized they are suddenly under scrutiny. Reading up at Marysville for Reasonable Water Rates’ Facebook page


I understand the proposal has so far been whittled down to 10 percent – WOW! – but the source, a spokesman from Cal Water, warns that the commission “ can raise it to whatever amount they determine that Cal Water needs/and or deserves. ”  We have it in cyber ink –  the CPUC does what’s good for Cal Water! “needs and/or deserves“? We need to keep up the pressure.

I wish people would write to the supervisors and thank them for joining the protest. You can find their e-mail addresses here


A friend of mine who lives here in Chico reports that her homeowner’s association has raised dues because of the pending increase. “People had no clue,” she said. Yes, it takes time to get the information out. If you’re reading this and you care, write a letter to the Enterprise Record, News and Review, Oroville Mercury Register, or some other local newspaper. Remind your neighbors, this increase is mainly for pensions and benefits. Only $165,000 for infrastructure, over three years, but almost a million for pensions and benefits. Do the math on your bills, tell people how much your bill will go up. Tell people how much you’ve spent fixing your plumbing, buying water-conserving fixtures and appliances,  how you’ve changed your lifestyle to conserve, and  been rewarded with rate increase after rate increase. Remind them, we don’t have a water shortage, we have too many developers in Southern California demanding our water. 

My friend’s comment, and the inaction of the commission on the rate case have convinced me that people need to know, and we still have time to tell them. 

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