Urges CPUC to Cut Suburban’s Rate Increase in Half
SAN FRANCISCO, June
24, 2014 – The Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA), the independent consumer
advocate within the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), has issued
its detailed analysis on Suburban Water Company’s (Suburban) request to
increase its customers’ water rates by a total of $14.86 million from
2015-2017. ORA finds that the CPUC should instead approve an estimated total
increase of $8.18 million for that period.
In February 2014,
Suburban requested the CPUC approve a rate increase of nearly 13.4% beginning in
2015, with additional increases of 4.32% in 2016 and 3.51% in 2017. Suburban
water service connections in the cities of San Jose Hills and Whittier/La
Mirada. Suburban’s request would increase water bills for an average
residential customer by about $10.28 and $7.41 per month for the San Jose Hills
and Whittier/La Mirada Service Areas, respectively.
analysis concluded that customer rates should increase by a lesser amount of
about 5% beginning in January 2015, followed by increases of about 3% for 2016
and 4% for 2017. ORA reviewed Suburban’s CPUC filing and found that its
request to increase rates was unwarranted because Suburban has overestimated the
amount of revenues that it needs to operate its service safely and reliably. ORA
finds that the CPUC should approve decreased cost estimates in the areas of
operations and administrative expenses, infrastructure, and forecast of water
sales. ORA’s recommendation would increase water bills for an average
residential customer by approximately $4.83 and $2.63 per month for the San Jose
Hills and Whittier/La Mirada Service Areas, respectively.
Suburban’s continued use of a conservation rate structure since it has been
effective in reducing customer water usage, and Suburban is ahead of schedule to
meet California’s mandated goal of reducing water usage by 20% by 2020.
“Suburban only needs about half
the money it has requested in order to serve its customers safely and
reliably,” said Joe Como, ORA’s acting director. “The CPUC should approve
ORA’s recommendation for smaller bill increases and not place an unnecessary
rate burden on Suburban water customers.”
five-commissioner CPUC panel is expected to rule on Suburban’s requests by the
end of the 2014, after it has held evidentiary hearings before an Administrative
Law Judge, scheduled for July 22–25, 2014 at the CPUC in San Francisco.
A Public Participation Hearing is scheduled for 5pm on July 16, 2014 at the West
Covina City Council Chambers.
For more details,
please see ORA’s webpage on Suburban.
For more information on ORA,
please visit www.ora.ca.gov.