Lou Binninger: Governor Jerry “Shut Up” Brown’s statewide water reduction mandate is a boon for privately held water companies

13 May

I got my Cal Water notice Monday, I assume you all did too. I’ve been too mad and really, too busy, to write about it, but here’s an article from Lou Binninger. I don’t agree with Binninger that water is being “wasted” on fish. I think that’s misplaced, but he’s right about the pensions – that’s the real story in these rates hikes, and no other media source is covering it. Cal Water management do not pay anything toward their outrageous pensions. I’m not sure what the lower tier workers pay, if anything. Like public employees, these “quasi-public” workers get 70 percent of their highest year’s salary at age 55, and we pay for it. 

When the court recently ruled that utilities can’t charge more for their product than it actually costs to produce it, the state came up with “penalty charges” that seem completely unrealistic. That’s because Jerry Brown is insane – I’m no shrink, but he seems to have a notion of “grandiosity,” or what we lesser humans call a “superiority complex.” To the point that he has no regard for people he doesn’t know personally. The Moonbeam would probably approve a plan by which everybody making less than $50,000/year was made into Soylent Green and fed to those making less than $100,000/year. All presided over by public employees making $150,000 plus benefits.

We need to get rid of Brown, and then go about dismantling these hog agencies he set up, based on embezzlement through our utility bills. 

Cal Water Profits from State Water Mismanagement

By Lou Binninger

Beginning June 2015, Cal Water Service (CWS) is requiring Marysville customers to reduce their water consumption by 24% compared to their 2013 usage or face financial penalties. The recent CWS mailer attributes the reduction to  Governor Jerry “Shut Up” Brown’s statewide water reduction mandate. The CWS penalty / surcharge will be twice the per-unit-cost for the highest quantity tier, up to an additional $10 per CCF (1 CCF=748 gallons).

Water activist Connie Walczak says the problem is that most Marysville customers were already conserving in 2013 because water became unaffordable. Cutting back another 24% using 2013 as a baseline may be impossible to attain. It appears that Gov. Brown and Cal Water’s hatchet approach rewards bad water use behavior. Those already conserving in 2013 are allotted less water before a penalty than water wasters. The mailer explains the rules and how to file an appeal. Other restricted uses of water will bring a $100-a-day fine.

Cal Water Service (CWS) prides itself on serving Marysville for more than 80 years. Until recently, it was a wallflower monopoly with little presence in the community. They once provided a state-regulated product that was affordable. Rates went up slightly over the years, but in 2011 residents were stunned by a 53% increase. Bills spiked. Landscapes dried up. CWS justified the increase because the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) agreed. However, the CPUC, created to be a watchdog of monopolies for the consumers, is now under investigation for corrupt practices favoring egregious rates for big utilities. Commissioners have hired a law firm specializing in criminal defense.

In 2013, CWS applied to the CPUC for another 47% rate hike. If successful it would have been a 100% increase since 2010. That caught the attention of East Marysville resident Connie Walczak. Walczak filed the first rate complaint ever with the CPUC against CWS.

After rejecting Walczak’s complaint, the commissioners granted an over 10% increase along with additional fees and adjustments, a 63% bump in rates since 2011. Private water companies are a cash cow for investors and CWS is one of the most successful. CWS has paid dividends to stockholders 279 quarters in a row. CPUC granted them a $45 million increase in revenue in 2013. Net income in 2014 was $56.7 million.

In 2014, their top 5 executives received a total of nearly $7.5 million not including benefits. The CWS President / CEO collected $2.8 million.

CWS employees are generously rewarded with top salaries, ‘Cadillac’ health insurance policies, retirement plans, school tuition subsidies and many get company vehicles. CWS recently constructed new corporate digs in San Jose and a Marysville office. All improvements and benefits are incorporated into the rates. Like all utilities they are guaranteed a profit by the CPUC.

As water usage goes down Cal Water’s revenue and profits are insured by a WRAM charge (Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism) that will increase. It is listed on your bill along with the service line cost, usage charge, CPUC fee and Public Purpose Programs. Under Brown’s state water doctrine consumers will pay more for less while millions of gallons of water each day are wasted on fish.

More information can be obtained from the mailer, calling Cal Water 530-742-6911 or attending a meeting Wednesday, May 27th, 5:30pm at 130 D St., Marysville.

2 Responses to “Lou Binninger: Governor Jerry “Shut Up” Brown’s statewide water reduction mandate is a boon for privately held water companies”

  1. toolman108 (@toolman108) May 21, 2015 at 5:09 am #

    I live outside of Chico, so can’t vote, but love reading your take on the crooks in office. I wish more people had your drive to right wrong’s and watch the fox’s we chicken’s vote for. It must be a passion and I love reading your take too, please keep up informing us on the demise of our town. We try to stay away from down town do to the homeless taking it over, now ever corner or intersection has a sole asking us to help with his drug problem. With City being so nice and making crime no longer a arresting offence, bikes being stripped outside City Hall with no worry police will interfere with them. I love this town and it makes me sick what it has become, I was born here, but might leave as the town slid’s into a dark sewer excepting that life long joblessness is a virtue.

    • Juanita Sumner May 21, 2015 at 5:14 am #

      Thanks and keep reading! Anytime you got a tip for me send it on in.

      I was going to quit, but my husband says we can afford to stay in town a couple more years.

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