Cal Water is not being honest with ratepayers regarding new rate increase – write to your county supervisor!

14 Aug

NOTE: If you received your Cal Water bill this week, it says there’s a insert enclosed explaining the new water rate increase application. There was no insert in my bill. This could be a problem for Cal Water, there is a legal noticing process with time limits. If you didn’t receive the insert, please send an e-mail to the Public Advisor’s office – that’s Claudia.Portillo@cpuc.ca.gov  Please tell her the bill said you were supposed to receive the notice, but it’s not included. Please cc Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk at MKirk@buttecounty.net

There is good news on the water rate increase – Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk has contacted the California Public Utilities Commission and is investigating the process by which a person “becomes a party” to a rate increase case. A “party” will received e-mail notices from the CPUC whenever any motion is filed or anything else happens on that rate case. That’s really nice, compared to what I tried to do – call them up and ask them for the information. They acted as though I’d called the White House to order a pizza.

One of these days I will post the list of “actions” ratepayers can take regarding a rate increase and the series of chutes and ladders by which we are required to file the action.  Watch out for the slide! I really appreciate Supervisor Kirk going to the trouble to do this. 

The bad news is, the process is not much easier for a county supervisor than it is for a regular citizen. The paperwork they’ve been sending Supervisor Kirk is nothing short of onerous. When I asked the CPUC rep if we needed a lawyer to fill this stuff out, he denied that, but suggested we get our county council to do it.  

I suspect like this man who was sent to “help” us is just another flakcatcher, but I’m going to study all the stuff he sent us. By the same process we can file a formal protest, but  that’s another pile of onerous paperwork. 

What I know about this rate increase case is that they are proposing to merge our district with Oroville and Marysville, where the rates are already so onerous, Cal Water has had trouble raising them further. They want to spread them out across a larger district, make us pay for long-needed improvements to those city’s infrastructure. That might be nice for Oroville and Marysville ratepayers, but most of them are protesting this hike anyway.

But this morning Supervisor Maureen Kirk sent me some really good news – the Office of Ratepayer Advocates has already filed a protest on this latest rate increase. It includes “Requests not included in the Proposed Application”.  

II. ISSUES

ORA is still reviewing Cal Water’s Application, but has identified several issues that it intends to review and potentially address during this proceeding.

A. Requests not Included in the Proposed Application Should be Stricken

The application includes multiple requests that were not included in the proposed application. The Rate Case Plan states “[t]he application shall conform to the content of the PA (Proposed Application), as approved by ORA.”1 Pages 16-17 of the General

Report of California Water Service (dated July 2015) include the following new requests not included in the Proposed Application:

o Special Request: Eliminating 10% Cap on WRAM Amortization

o Special Request: Continued Authorization for Balanced Payment Plan

o Special Request: Permanent Credit Card Program

o Special Request: Temporary Metered Service Tariff

o Special Request: Public and Private Fire Protection Tariffs

o Special Request: Rule 15 Main Extensions Clarifications

o Eight Additional items were added to the Special Request regarding Memorandum and Balancing Accounts

As ORA was not given opportunity to perform a deficiency review on these requests, and these requests do not conform to the content of the Proposed Application as approved by ORA, they are outside of the scope of this application and should be stricken.

Furthermore, I just received my Cal Water bill yesterday. On my bill it says, “Please review the enclosed bill insert about Cal Water’s required General Rate Case filing…”  But hey, there’s no such insert in my bill. And, I’m assuming, if there had been, it wouldn’t  say anything about that list above. I’ll have to call them today and also drop a line to the CPUC advisor and anybody else I can cc. 

Please write a note to Third District Supervisor Maureen Kirk, thank her for her efforts on our behalf, and ask her what you can do to help. That’s MKirk@buttecounty.net

If Kirk is not your supervisor, you might also write to your own supervisor and ask them  to give Maureen any help they can.

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