How do they get away with this every three years?

16 Aug

I’m sitting here in shock over the announcement that Cal Water got 20 of the 38 percent they asked for in a rate hike. And here’s the kicker Girls – retroactive back to January of this year. The CPUC had delayed the decision, so they agreed to make it retroactive. The announcement claimed the average retroactive amount would be $56, just glued on to your next bill. That’s based on the assumption that we all spend the lion’s share of our time at work and school, flushing public toilets and drinking bottled water.  Mine will more likely be over $100 – God I’m a pig. 

I got a comment from John B., reminding me, Cal Water asks for a rate increase about every three years. It’s automatic or something. 

my comment is about the 20% increase in water rates that was just approved, how do they get away with this every 3 years,they ask for raises to build new water tanks,repair/replace infastructure,new office to cut down cost,but when these things are done the cost still stay in place,so if they ask for 500k to build a water tank in there rates they are getting that 500k every 3 years forever.why do we not see a decrease when projects that the money was for are complete maybe a little for upkeep. they have increases in effect from 20yrs ago for completed projects. take out the public in cpuc

He’s right, they make it sound temporary, but they never use the word “sunset,” or give a date. They just use these excuses to perpetually hike our rates to cover their pensions, like I said in my letter to the ER:

Chico Cal Water ratepayers have been wondering about the “WRAM” charge on their bills. WRAM is the “Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism,” by which Cal Water manipulates our rates monthly to cover what Chico manager Pete Bonacich calls “operating expenses.”

Contacted by Action News 24, Mr. Bonacich described “operating expenses”. “We still have to have people go out and read our meters, we still have to have people go out and check our well sites, and maintain our pumps and things like that.”

Like Chico Police, Butte Vectors, CARD and other public and quasi-public employees, Cal Water employees get defined benefits, for which they pay zero to nine percent. They expect us to pay the rest. The Chico water rate increase notice I received in my bill included “$556,000 to retain the same level of employee health care, pensions, and retiree health care benefits for General Office personnel…” and another $423,000 for field workers’ benefits, for one year, but only “$163,000 for water infrastructure improvements between 2013 and 2016.”

We are faced with a wave of tax and rate increase proposals to pay for pensions for workers who pay little to nothing for 70 to 90 percent of their highest year’s pay, available as early as age 50. Please join Chico Taxpayers Association in protesting unsustainable compensation. Protests from Chico ratepayers have resulted in a decrease in the water rate increase proposal which is currently before the CPUC – together we can and do make a difference.

I meant that about making a difference. They wanted a 38 percent rate hike, and while I’m sure they asked for more than they really wanted, I’m also pretty sure they would have got that 38 and liked it plenty if we hadn’t squawked about it.

I won’t give Chico much credit, Marysville and Lucerne and some other towns made a lot more noise. We owe them a lot of thanks. Those letters got one CPUC commissioner to at least set it aside, he asked for more comments from ratepayers. I’m guessing if we’d given him more, we might have got a better shake than 20. Oh well. 

John says, “take out the public in cpuc [California Public Utilities Commission]…”  This has already been accomplished – our governors, from Gray Davis on to Jerry Brown II have built a commission out of former employees of the utility giants. The current president of the CPUC, Michael Peevey, once headed Edison South and other power companies. 

Screaming bloody murder about this stuff is good, but we have to start voting for some new people. We have to start in our local elections, get rid of these union plants. 

 

 

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