This page lists instructions and templates on filing protest letters against Advice Letter 513 and filing general complaints with the CPUC. Scroll down for instructions and templates for individual Advice Letter or General Complaint.
Protest Advice Letter 513. On November 15, 2017, 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
Deadline to Protest is December 5, 2017.
Follow these steps:
1 - Copy and paste the below letter in an email and add your name. Personalize the letter. The impact will be stronger if personalized.
2 - Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 - SUBJECT: Protest SJWC’s Advice Letter 513 dated November 15, 2017
To CPUC Water Division and Commissioners,
WRATES, Water Rate Advocates for Transparency, Equity and Sustainability, is protesting San Jose Water Company's Advice Letter No. 513 dated November15, 2017, a request 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.
Please DENY San Jose Water Company's request to increase revenue by $16,425,000 or 4.43% effective January 1, 2018 and halt ALL rate increase requests for the following reasons:
1.) The CPUC has been allowing SJWC to gouge its customers for far too long. SJWC has been earning returns greater than 8.09% and effective 1/1/18, a new and much lower rate of return will hopefully be authorized by the commission so this step rate increase cannot be authorized until the new Cost of Capital is determined.
2.) The commissioners need to finally follow the CPUC mission statement and align themselves with the ratepayer and not the utilities. The ratepayers should see a reduction in rates come January, not another increase. This advice letter is going in the wrong direction for the ratepayer again.
3.) SJWC is spinning the numbers claiming that they are currently earning below the authorized rate of return on ratebase of 8.09% on a proforma basis. The CPUC needs to look at the whole picture. A full "earnings test" needs to be administered. There is no reason SJWC should be getting any more rate increases. All increase requests should be halted until the CPUC does a complete forensic audit on SJWC.
4.) It is not acceptable to rely on any of SJWC’s calculations regarding their summary of earnings, escalation attrition calculations and escalation factors. Given that SJWC's billing system is under investigation by the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division for evaluation to open an Order Instituting Investigation (OII), Advice letter 513 should be denied.
5.) Since January 1, 2016, SJWC has requested $179,111,030 in rate increases. Of that, the CPUC has authorized $137,342,580 in rate increases. Advice letter 501 and 512 were suspended after the ratepayers aggressively protested these increases. These advice letters, if approved, would have increased our rates another $25,343,450. Advice letter 513 would increase our rates another $16,425,000. SJW does not need any more rate increases and the CPUC needs to authorize a rate reduction.
6.) The CPUC authorized SJWC to swindle $37 Million from the residential class of ratepayers with Resolution W-5074, Schedule 14.1. The CPUC authorized this illegal theft and is in violation of PUC Code § 728 and Penal Code 396. The CPUC needs to mandate that SJWC reimburse the $37 Million to the residential class of customers it was stolen from. SJWC achieved record earnings during 2016, a drought year. The customers of SJWC had already reduced water consumption by 25.3% from 2013 levels before the CPUC authorized Schedule 14.1. Question for the Commissioners - HOW DID YOU COLLECTIVELY DECIDE THAT THIS WAS NOT UNLAWFUL, UNREASONABLE, DISCRIMINATORY, UNJUST, AND PREFERENTIAL????
PENAL CODE - PEN
PART 1. OF CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS [25 - 680] ( Part 1 enacted 1872. )
TITLE 10. OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY [369a - 402c] ( Title 10 enacted 1872. )
The Legislature hereby finds that during a state of emergency or local emergency, including, but not limited to, an earthquake, flood, fire, riot, storm, drought, plant or animal infestation or disease, or other natural or manmade disaster, some merchants have taken unfair advantage of consumers by greatly increasing prices for essential consumer goods and services. While the pricing of consumer goods and services is generally best left to the marketplace under ordinary conditions, when a declared state of emergency or local emergency results in abnormal disruptions of the market, the public interest requires that excessive and unjustified increases in the prices of essential consumer goods and services be prohibited. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to protect citizens from excessive and unjustified increases in the prices charged during or shortly after a declared state of emergency or local emergency for goods and services that are vital and necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. Further, it is the intent of the Legislature that this section be liberally construed so that its beneficial purposes may be served.
PUC Code § 728
Whenever the commission, after a hearing, finds that the rates or classifications, demanded, observed, charged, or collected by any public utility for or in connection with any service, product, or commodity, or the rules, practices, or contracts affecting such rates or classifications are insufficient, unlawful, unjust, unreasonable, discriminatory, or preferential, the commission shall determine and fix, by order, the just, reasonable, or sufficient rates, classifications, rules, practices, or contracts to be thereafter observed and in force.
7.) The ratepayers have financed the Montevina Water Treatment Plant, which has cost the ratepayer over $70 Million - Who is actually benefiting from this plant? So far, SJW executives, shareholders and the contractors they hired are benefiting. Not the ratepayer.
CEO Richard Roth stated the following at the 2017 Q3 Earnings Call:
“…our [Montivena Water Treatment Plant] is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2017, at which time we will begin to benefit from water currently stored in the Lake Elsman, our source of water supply for the plant."
So far, all the ratepayers have seen, are escalated rates due to the retrofit of this plant with no benefits. We financed this project. We should now be able to reap the benefits by lowering our rates. Once the Montivena Water Treatment Plant is on line in January 2018, we the ratepayers are expecting our rates to decrease due to less water being used from SCVWD. Not increased!
When was the last time CPUC did their job and performed a full forensic audit on SJWC? We are requesting that the commission open a full forensic audit on SJWC and SJW. We are way beyond "questionable billing practices”.
SJWC customers cannot sustain such high rate increases every year. Salaries in the Bay Area are certainly not increasing by 20% per year.
What regulations does the CPUC enforce to ensure the IOU's are cost effective in the deliverance, NEEDED employment, and NEEDED maintenance of the infrastructure? There is a direct connection between CPUC rate approvals and SJW’s record earnings and the excessive salaries and bonuses of SJW executives/employees. The customer/ratepayer is unfairly footing the bill for the excesses.
We respectfully request that San Jose Water Company's Advice Letter No. 513 be denied and a full forensic audit be performed.
WRATES, Water Rate Advocates for Transparency, Equity and Sustainability
File an informal complaint with the CPUC at this link https://appsssl.cpuc.ca.gov/cpucapplication/
You can write your own complaint or you can copy and paste the complaint below. Please note you will not be able to submit your complaint if it is over 1000 characters (this includes spaces).
Please attach the PDF below in your complaint. It is the 2013-2016 Comparison Model that illustrates the 71% rate increase for a “typical” SJW customer and higher increases for those going over the allocations since 2013. You will need to save the PDF to your computer first and then select CHOOSE FILE and then select ATTACH FILE at the bottom of the complaint form
The following 3 questions are on the complaint form:
What is the situation that concerns you? (1000 characters about 200 words max)
My concern is with the drought surcharge program, the increased charges in other sections of the bill, the structure of the charges, lack of transparency of the bills, SJW Corp. as a whole & the outrageous rates we are being charged.
In 2012, SJW requested a 44% increase. This was not approved but, today, with PUC’s approval of the MANY add’l surcharges & rate increases, SJW got much more.
SJW is charging ALL of its customers using 15ccf/mo or more a minimum of 71% more now, than in 2013. The extra line item fees, alone, have increased by 177%. The increase on our bills goes up even more drastically with drought surcharge and line item fees. See attachment.
SJW rates are much higher than other CA water companies; even other PUC regulated investor-owned companies.
The executives at SJW are making millions in salary/bonuses, yet the job of the PUC is to regulate & ensure reasonable rate increases. Our rates & their salaries/bonuses are NOT representative of reasonable rates.
What did the utility say when you contacted them? (1000 characters about 200 words max)
The SJW’s rep. says SJW can charge these rates because they were approved by the PUC. A number of factors that occurred over a very short period may be responsible for the unusual bills.
The PUC approved an 8.6% rate increase on 6-14-16. This went into effect immediately.
SCVWD approved an increase of 19.9% on the water it sells to retailers, including SJWC. This wholesale water rate increase, eff. 7-1-16, translates into a 6.8% pass-thru increase for our customers.
Water usage typically increases in the summer months.
Although the SCVWD’s conservation target has been reduced from 30% to 20%, SJWC is still operating under the drought contingency plan in which residential customers must remain at or below their monthly allocations in order to avoid drought surcharges.
SJWC’s rates are set by the CPUC through a very comprehensive 12-18 month long review process to arrive at just and reasonable rates. Input from the ORA and public is considered in their final decision.
What action do you want the CPUC to take? (1000 characters about 200 words max)
I respectfully request:
a modification to the PUC rate decisions and/or to the current Schedule 14.1. We need swift & immediate relief from the outrageous rates SJW is charging. We need a new rate structure that makes sense.
CPUC require SJW to refund all charges that are not reasonable & to produce a bill that definitively explains every line item & charge.
CPUC advise SJW that it should propose a rate strategy (including reasonable tier allotments) similar to other water companies throughout the state.
CPUC overturn SJW’s drought allocation structure. It violates state law by imposing penalties on homeowners but not businesses/apartment owners. The surcharges are unjust, unreasonable & discriminatory.
CPUC require SJW to be transparent & share all of their financials & spending. PUC needs to do a full investigation into SJW to determine if the rate increases they are requesting are going back into SJW or being diverted into SJW Corp. subsidiaries. ie: SJW Land etc.