James Hunter

Friday, August 8, 2014

San Jose Water Company's Rate Increase is on CPUC's 14 August Agenda

CPUC will consider the SJWC GRC (General Rate Increase) A1201003, at the August 14, 2014 Consent Hearing. The agenda is available at the CPUC website, the SJWC is on page 19.

The Comments were submitted on July 31st by ORA/DRA and SJWC. ORA/DRA comments addressed the following items:

SJWC is trying to re-open the entire case again, refer to page 1 & 2 of the ORA Comments.

"SJWC’s Comments Amount to an Additional Round of Briefing Intended to Re-litigate This Proceeding SJWC’s comments do not comply with Rule 14.3(c). Instead of focusing on factual, legal, or technical errors, SJWC served 25 pages 1 of comments that represent a fourth round of briefing in this case.. Because they do not comply with Rule 14.3, the Commision should disregard SJWC’s comments."

"............SJWC, on the other hand, chose to re-argue issues. For example, SJWC asserts
that “[t]he Proposed Decision not only ignores SJWC’s rebuttal evidence supporting the
Company’s 3-tier proposal; it fails to address SJWC’s proposal to retain the existing 2-
tier ate design if a WRAM/MCBA is not authorized..Not only is this assertion
irrelevant, it is incorrect. In fact, the PD specifically recognizes that, “SJWC’s  three-tier
residential rate design proposal is conditioned upon concurrent Commission's approval of
its proposal for a full [WRAM/MCBA]. Absent approval of the WRAM/MCBA, SJWC
proposes to retain its present two-tier residential rate design.The Commission's simply
decides, after weighing the record, to adopt ORA’s proposed rate design.9
This type of argument pervades SJWC’s comments."

"Section O of SJWC’s comments is the only section that comments on a factual
error in the PD. That section addresses Test Year 2013 Rent Expense.10 In rebuttal
testimony, SJWC changed its Test Year 2013 Rent Expense estimate to $382,00.1 At
hearing, ORA’s witness agreed that $382,00 is an appropriate amount for Test Year
2013 Rent Expense.12 This is the only section of SJWC’s Opening Comments that he
Commision should adopt."

SJWC’s disregard for the Commission’s Rules in its opening comments is not
limited just o re-briefing this rate case. Additionally, SJWC attempts to use extra-record
evidence to sway the Commission's. For example, SJWC argues for the funding of more
employe positions by claiming over the two years since briefs were filed in this
GRC, SJWC has found it necessary, despite uncertainty as to the disposition of its
application, to fill some of the 27 additional positions proposed in Ms. Leal’s testimony.
As of this date, eleven of those positions have been filed . .This argument is
contrary to Commission's rules. Not only did the Commission's weigh the record evidence
and make its decision on labor and payroll expense, but SJWC now attempts to
introduce evidence that is not part of the record, that is not sponsored by a witness, and
that no party has a chance to subject o cross-examination."

Bloggers comment: In simple english, not legalize, ORA specifies SJWC Comments are not in compliance with specific CPUC rules, further that SJWC is attempting to re-argue items resolved in the ALJ's Proposed Decision and argued by SJWC over the past 30 months, but to sway the Commissioners, by attempting justify actions not in compliance, by justifying the action, by the action itself. I think the French term is "fiat accompli" (A thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept) This is not a valid legal argument. It's also interesting that SJWC is also trying to tie the change from two to three tier residential pricing, to the WRAM de-coupling sales and revenue. That appears to be a rather blatant effort to sway the CPUC Commission.
Several of the tactics I see were mentioned, in a previous blog, "SJWC Rate Increase, "Follow the money", I said, "a strategy commonly used by the losing negotiator is to "make it more complicated", challenge everything and run the other negotiator out of time/resources, ask for "so many things" you'll get something." I'm not a lawyer but it sure looks like what SJWC is trying to do.

Please send email, make your opinion heard!

 If you are concerned about these issues, send email to CPUC at: District 5 United eForm eMail  Simply click on the "eForm eMail" and you will get a page to fill out the information and specify the reason for your opposition to the SJWC Rate Increase and continuing requests to de-couple their revenue from the requirement to do business efficiently and your concern about their lack of openness and transparency.  If you agree with this blog please also mention the violations of CPUC rules and the tactics being used by SJWC and that the ALJ and commissioner should take a position that all the points made by SJWC should be rejected, except item O in the SJWC Comments.

You can also send an email to CPUC Public Advisopublic.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov  The Public Adviser will insure your email will be sent to all the appropriate CPUC staff members.

Other people to drop an email (note) and express your opinion are:
  • Scott Herhold, San Jose Mercury News, sherhold@mercurynews.com
  • Julie Putnam, NBC Channel 5, julie.putnam@nbcuni.com

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