James Hunter

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

SJWC Public Hearing, Rotary Summit Center, Drought Issues

The Rotary Summit Center only has "paid parking", the parking fee is $5.00 between 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM. San Jose Water Company has not said if "Validated parking is  available".  Click here for more parking information.

Entrance to parking is at 44 4th Street, elevators are on the 4th Street side of the parking. The Rotary Summit Center is on the 7th Floor.  4th Street is one-way towards San Fernando Street, please see the map below.

Several points may be of concern and you may wish to consider speaking at the Public Hearing. Currently we are at Stage 3 Severe drought, we have 9 levels of conservation from 4-36% and a Statewide reduction of by Governor Brown's Executive Order, of  25%.

The SJWC filed a tariff in accordance with Rule 14.1, but announced that consideration would be made for residences with more than 2 occupants, there should be more info announced by SJWC, at the Public Hearing..

California drought: San Jose Water Company to allow extra drought allocations for larger families

Some background on the Drought Surcharges.

The range of reductions varies from 4%-36%, generally higher in Southern California,
http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_28052142/california-drought-first-ever-mandatory-water-conservation-rules    at bottom, of the article, is the complete list of state required reductions, by City and Water Company. San Jose City is 20% (page 3), San Jose Water Company 20% (page 4).

While San Jose has allocations of 80%, the Santa Clara Water District and the City of San Jose agreed to decrease the allocation to 70%, SJWC responded by submitting an updated Tariff which is based on the 70%
http://www.valleywater.org/EkContent.aspx?id=12380    Santa Clara Valley Water District County was voluntarily calling for 20% starting in 2014, got 13%. So used this as a basis of justifying 30%...................also the groundwater levels we pump from are down 30-40 feet, 1/3 of the available water, San Jose uses. SCVWD is also increasing the pump tax, this increase will be showing up as an increase in our basic rates and on our bills from SJWC.

Lots of variation in the penalties (drought surcharges) across the State. Some cities have opted for the 20% or 25% surcharge on all water use plus an added excessive usage of double the effective underlying rate per CCF, for use above individual customers 2013 water usage. Lots of things that are different from the Drought Surcharge proposed by SJWC. Public Hearings are being held through the middle of June, so until the other Cities and Water Companies in California file the drought tariff and publish information on their tariff will we be sure where SJWC, SCVWD and the City of San Jose proposed tariff is in relation to the other water suppliers. 

CPUC has also published a Drought Procedures document:

Please see my posting on SJWC drought windfall profits:

SJWC is supposed to use drought surcharges collected to pay for conservation costs and then apply available funds to delay future increases, to their customers. ORA also opposes a significant increase in water conservation expenses, based on providing 2,000 low flow toilets per year to SJWC customers Since SJWC has 200,000 customers/connections it appears to me it would take 100 years for some SJWC customers to get a toilet, from the program..............

My thanks to Jim Boothe, Program Supervisor for the CPUC's Division of Water and Audits in San Francisco, for his email clarification of the use Drought Surcharges, by SJWC.

I'll be adding a blog post on one of the pending issues in the current GRC 1501002 asking for a complete decoupling of sales and revenues, from the CPUC guaranteed 8.08% profit. Presently the Office of Ratepayer Advocates has opposed providing a full WRAM (Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism), to SJWC. We the ratepayers currently guarantee the profit for 8.08% for SJWC, what benefits do the customers get if SJWC gets approved for a full WRAM? What benefits does SJWC get? So far SJWC has shown that getting a full WRAM is worth about $700,000 per year, unless they get to pass the cost through as a conservation expense.

SJWC has indicated the cost per toilet would be $320 including actual installation. They try to justify this by saying there will be a significant savings in water use in the low flush toilets, but they attach the requirement that they get a full WRAM to protect their revenues and profits. Well I'd say we have at least the initial bid from them, as someone who spent years negotiating, is probably low from our viewpoint. The other problem is this offer only applies to 1% of the customers each year. Lots of ethical issues are raised in addition to the value, to SJWC value questions.

Note: The largest single contract negotiation I was responsible for was 122 million dollars (1982 dollars).

Lots of questions only a few answers that make sense. Let's all keep in mind we all should be concerned about the drought and the only short term "guaranteed" solution is "conservation". Especially if the drought continues for one or more years. Let's conserve, but be sure that the rules are applied in a reasonable fashion and the funds from drought surcharges are used to really help customers/ratepayers conserve water. Let's look at the financial impact of the changes on us and make sure that there is also a positive incentive to conserve as well as a negative incentive.

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