WRATES - Water Rate Advocates for Transparency, Equity and Sustainability is creating awareness to bring about change to California's broken government entity, the CPUC, and the profiteering, monopolistic, investor owned, San Jose Water Group and the unchallenged SCVWD.
ADDED 5/22/18 - Great News!!It’s official. The CPUC will immediately be audited by the California State Auditor regarding water rates. See AUDIT for details.
ADDED 5/19/18 - CALL TO ACTION - SJW Group / Connecticut Water Services (CTWS) Merger. SJW Group is looking to merge with CTWS. This merger is currently NOT being reviewed by the CPUC. SJW claims this is a “merger of equals” and will not change our water rates. We need the CPUC to get involved and review this merger. Send letters to the Commission and elected officials. Go to MERGER for details.
ADDED 5/17/18 - CALL TO ACTION- Attend General Rate Case (GRC) Public Participation Hearing When: Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 6:00 P.M. Where: San Jose City Council Chambers, 200 E. Santa Clara Street Why: SJWC wants to increase our rates again by 18.63% Click on Call to Action for details.
Outrageous rate increases are a systemic problem throughout California that the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) has created by not doing their job. 10 minute video.
ADDED 11-30-17 - WRATES and the Lancaster-based California Coalition to End Water Rates Abuse are communicating and cooperating to generate grassroots, non-partisan legislation to enact reforms statewide. More information on this exciting development can be found by clicking on COALITION. *****************
OUTCOME of Nov. 6 CPUC PUBLIC HEARING at SJ City Hall - Thank you to all who attended! Judge Bemesderfer and Commissioner Guzman-Aceves and her Assistant presided over the public hearing. ORA, Richard Rauschmeier, was in attendance and advocated for the ratepayers. All three CPUC members spoke as well as Palle Jensen, VP of SJW. Representatives from Cal-Water, Cal-Am and Golden State were present but did not speak. There was a strong public turnout. City Hall holds 300 people and it was almost full. 54 of the 56 people who requested to speak, spoke. There was a hard stop at 10:00pm. First to speak were the elected officials - Mayor of SJ Sam Liccardo, SJ council member Don Rocha, Vice Mayor of Monte Sereno Burton Craig and council member of Cupertino Steven Scarf. It was important that Mayor Liccardo attended and spoke on behalf of the ratepayers. He also recognized WRATES and all our hard work in his speech. Thank you Mayor Liccardo! Go to Cost of Capital page for details.
UPDATED 10/18/17 - WRATES has been making progress. * The Formal Complaint (C.17-06-009) regarding the decades of SJWC Service Charge Overcharges (Click on OVERCHARGES for details) has been escalated to the CPUC Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division and is under investigation for evaluation to open an Order Instituting Investigation or OII. * SJ City Council Meeting - On Tuesday, October 24 at 6 pm., the City of San Jose Council unanimously voted YES take Actions Related to San Jose Water Company by getting involved with the CPUC process to promote water affordability from SJWC.
* WaterFix - On 10-17-17, with added pressure from Governor Brown and Silicon Valley Leadership group, all 7 SCVWD board members voted YES on Gov. Brown’s WaterFix with the contingency that the WaterFix proposal be rewritten for ONE tunnel and not the original twin tunnels proposal. All votes took place without knowing costs, overruns or water output.This is a very disappointing decision and once again will cause increased repercussions to the ratepayer and possibly the property taxpayer.
************************** 1 - UPDATED 11/30/17 - Protesting : SJWC filed Advice Letter 513on November 15, 2017. With this advice letter, SJWC requested to increase revenue by $16,425,000 or 4.43% via a step rate increase for escalation year 2018 to become effective January 1, 2018. This will increase our Service Charge Rate and our Tier Rates as follows: - Service Charge for 3/4" meter will increase from $50.90 bi-monthly to $53.52 bi-monthly - Service Charge for 1" meter will increase from $84.74 bi-monthly to $89.10 bi-monthly - Tier 1 (0-3 ccfs) will increase from $4.29/ccf to $4.49/ccf - Tier 2 (4-18 ccfs) will increase from $4.76/ccf to$4.99/ccf - Tier 3 (18+ ccfs) will increase from $5.24/ccff to $5.49/ccf To send protest letter to CPUC, go toFILE A COMPLAINT.
2 - UPDATED 10/18/17 - Suspended : SJWC filed Advice Letter 512on September 29, 2017. With this advice letter, SJWC requested a re-implementation (or continuation) of the 2013 Interim Rate True-Up Surcharge with Advice Letter 512. SJWC is seeking to recover the remaining $11.5M of $46.7M they claim is still owed to them in the 2013 Interim Rates True-Up Memorandum Account.
3 - UPDATED 8/11/17 - Rejected - ORA also protested AL510: SJWC filed Advice Letter 510on June 6, 2017. With this advice letter, SJWC is requesting a surcredit refund to its customers for the service charge overcharges. If approved, each residential customer with a 3/4” meter will be refunded $5.70, 1” will be refunded $9.49 etc. I have protested this advice letter because SJWC overcharged its customers in excess of $13 million and it is seeking to refund its customers only $1.7 million. That is not just or fair. View OVERCHARGES for details. Click on AL510 Rejection. The Commissioner and Administrative Law Judge assigned to the Service Charge Overcharge Formal Complaint are: - Commissioner Carla Peterman - Administrative Law Judge Karl Bemesderfer The CPUC Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division is currently investigating SJWC's billing practices.
4 - ADDED 6/16/17 - Approved: SJWC filed Advice Letter 509 and 509A on May 26, 2017. This will increase our rates an additional 3.66% for the typical user using 15ccf/mo. This is the pass through increase to offset the purchased and ground water charges from SCVWD (9.6% x 38% = 3.66%). This increase will go into effect on July 1, 2017. WRATES is not going to protest this advice letter. WRATES already fought this increase with the SCVWD in late 2016 and early 2017 and succeeded in reducing SCVWD’s wholesale rate increase from 16.7% down to 9.6%. Had SCVWD increased its wholesale rate 16.7%, advice letter 509(A) would be seeking a rate increase of 6.35%. A small victory.
5 - Approved: - SJWC posted their latest advice letter filings on their website on May 6, 2017; AL507 & AL508(A)(B) filed 4/27/17 and 5/2/17 respectively. Advice Letter 508 was revised by SJWC and refiled with the CPUC on 5/4/17. This increased our rates for the typical user using 15ccf/month by 3.30% effective June 1, 2017. ************************** 6 -Approved: SJWC's Advice Letter No. 498 to CPUC - 3.83% tier rate and service charge increases which went into effect January 1, 2017. This increased our tier rates and service charge rates as follows: 0-3ccf - increased from $4.0581 to $4.2210 4-18ccf - increased from $4.509 to $4.6900 Over 18ccf - increased from $4.9599 to $5.1590 3/4" meter - increased from $23.98/month to $25.02/month 1" meter - increased from $39.94/month to $41.66/month 7 -Rejected on May 3, 2017 because Gov. Brown declared an end to the drought emergency on April 7, 2017; on May 10, 2017 SJWC Requesting for Commission Review of Water Division's Rejection SJWC's Advice Letter No. 501 to CPUC - The 3.65% rate increase requested to recapture the shortfall in inflated forecasted revenue to go into effect March 15, 2017. 8 - Approved: SJWC's Advice Letter No. 506 to CPUC - The 1.51% rate increase requested by Advice Letter No. 506 to recover 2016 expenditures for the Montevina Upgrade Project. This would increase our tier rates effective March 20, 2017again as follows: 0-3ccf - will increase from $4.2210 to $4.2878 4-18ccf - will increase from $4.6900 to $4.7642 Over 18ccf - will increase from $5.1590 to $5.2406 3/4" meter will increase from $25.02/month to $25.45/month 1" meter will increase from $41.66/month to $42.37/month
The following are SJWC’s Advice Letter Rate Increases since January 1, 2017: AL 498 - 3.83% - general rate case increase - approved AL 501 - 3.65% - SRM drought shortfall recovery - rejected & waiting for Res. W-5150 to be upheld by CPUC Commission AL 506 - 1.51% - Montevina Upgrade Project - approved AL 508 - 3.30% - 2014/15 WCMA mandatory conservation recovery - approved AL 509 - 3.66% - SCVWD pass through increase - approved TOTAL: 12.30% rate increases thus far and if SJWC is successful at appealing AL 501, the total increase will be 15.95%.
Since 2013, the CPUC has allowed SJWC to increase its rates an average of 20% per year and at this rate, SJWC will achieve or surpass a 20% increase for 2017. SJWC water rates are already unreasonable and they are quickly becoming unaffordable. Annual increases in San Jose Water Company rates from 2013 to 2016 averaged 20%. These increases are unrelated to any drought surcharges and represents tier rate, service charge and line item rate increases only. San Jose Water Company customers cannot sustain such high rate increases every year. Salaries in the Bay Area are certainly not increasing by 20% per year. These unsustainable rates are already a reality for residence in Bayonne, New Jersey as stated in this New York Times article. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/24/business/dealbook/private-equity-water.html?_r=0. Citizens are falling behind on their water bill payments and the city is placing more liens against residents’ homes, which can eventually lead to foreclosures. Let's not make this our reality. The climate the CPUC has created with the utility companies benefits and protects the utility companies and leaves the ratepayers with exorbitant water bills and nowhere to turn for help. This is no longer about water conservation. It is about NOT being able to afford WATER. The CPUC's rate making decisions are making water unaffordable and this will have and is having detrimental consequences in our communities. ****** ADDED 6/18/17 - Cost of Capital Application - SJWC filed application A.17-04-001 on April 3, 2017. The CPUC decision will be made some time in December 2017. This Cost of Capital (CofC) is the foundation for the next General Rate Case for setting our rates for the years 2019, 20 & 21 and it will also affect our current General Rate Case effective January 1, 2018. The current CofC allows SJWC an 8.09% rate of return. SJWC is seeking to increase its rate of return to 8.63%. The Commissioner and Administrative Law Judge assigned to the CofC application are: - Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves - Administrative Law Judge Karl Bemesderfer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In 2012, SJW requested a 44% increase over 2013, 2014 & 2015 from CPUC. This was not approved but, today, with CPUC’s approval of the MANY additional surcharges and rate increases, SJW is now charging 71% more than in 2013 if you are under your allocation. The increase goes up even more drastically if you go over your allocation. ie: 25ccf/mo.=128%, 30ccf/mo.=155%, 50ccf/mo.=208%, 75ccf/mo.=237%. These rates are truly outrageous! (Based on a comparison of 2013 & 2016 Jul/Aug bills. 71% is based on "typical" customer using 15ccf/mo.)
All of California is in this drought together but San Jose Water Company is way out of line with their rates, allocations, surcharges and "true-up" surcharges. Other water companies in the Bay Area are charging their customers much, much less. Neighboring, Great Oaks Water, which services parts of San Jose is charging their customers 87% less than SJW. They also get their water from the Santa Clara Water Valley Water District (SCVWD), just like SJW, and they are also a for profit, investor-owner, company regulated by the CPUC.
Why has the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved these extreme rate hikes and surcharges to SJW? This needs to be repealed and SJW should be required to reimburse its customers.
The CPUC and SJW need to address the following issues and make change.
1 – We are paying the price. SJW is making huge profits because of rate and surcharge increases that SJW requested and CPUC approved. SJW is a for profit company and publicly traded on the NY stock exchange. Their 3rd quarter 2016 revenue was $112.3 million, a 35.4% increase over 3rd quarter 2015. SJWCorp. stock has risen over 73% since January 2016.
Richard Roth, SJW CEO, recently stated, "...[SJW] provides superior service levels and delivers reliable water supplies at a reasonable price." and “the company’s cash flow remains robust…” This is happening on the backs of its customers. SJW is exploiting the drought in California for huge financial gain. Surely, the CPUC can repeal their rate and surcharge decisions.
2 – Our Rates are Not Reasonable. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is responsible for ensuring that California’s investor-owned water utilities deliver clean, safe, and reliable water to their customers at reasonable rates.
We are using considerably less water and our bills are 71% higher than our 2013 bills. Some customers are receiving bills over $2000. These rates are not reasonable.
3 – Unfair Water Allocations. SJW has allocated the same amount of water for all its customers during drought conditions, excluding apartments, commercial/industrial customers. Water allocations should be based on number in household and lot size. Two people living in a condo are not going to require as much water as a family of 4 living in a single family home on a 10,000 square foot lot. Homeowners and house renters with a water meter, 60% of users, are being held responsible for almost the entire burden of the mandatory drought rationing. SJWC decided to exclude 40% of water users: apartments, commercial/industrial customers. This is discrimination that unfairly places the costs on a unique class of users.
If we do not use our water allocation for a given month, we do not get to “bank” the extra and save it for a non-rainy day.
4 – SJW Needs to be Transparent. SJW bills are so confusing and difficult to decipher that even their customer service department is unable to explain the math for all the different surcharges. We were informed that there would be an 8.6% increase but the tier rates reflects a 26% increase. John Tang with SJW stated that this is because they added an additional $0.64 per ccf in surcharges and then added the 8.6% increase to the January rate of $3.21. This brings our new tier rates to $4.05, $4.50 & $4.95. Additional Drought Surcharge rates are DS1-$3.56 & DS2-$7.13 per ccf. This math still does not add up to an 8.6% increase. SJW also decreased our water allotments per tier. Previously, tier1 was for 0-13 ccf per month and now, tier1 is 0-3 ccf per month, tier2 is 3-18 ccf and tier3 is 18+. The tier rates will not decrease and tier allotments will not increase when the drought is over. 5 – SJW Water Data Collection is Imprecise yet our bills are precise to .00001 ccf. SJW currently does not know how much water its customers use during a given month. Their 2 month billing cycles have loose start and end dates yet our water allocations are on a monthly basis.
6 – SJW Employees receive their water Free of Charge and are not subject to Drought Allocation Surcharges. This puts them out of touch with their customers.
In addition to signing the petition, it is very important that EACH and EVERY one of us file a complaint with the CPUC! The more complaints they get, the more we will be heard.www.sjwfacts.weebly.com/file-complaint.html