James Hunter

Sunday, May 22, 2016

After many delays SJWC GRC 2016 (General Rate Case ) will go to the CPUC Commission and with several disputed items that San Jose Water Company has not been able to find a compromise with the ORA (Office of Ratepayer Advocates). Below are the list of disagreements 10 months ago, click for the entire attachment.

  • Executive and Management bonuses. I have a problem with the SJWC position they represent the interests of their shareholders, not the financial interests of their ratepayers. Why should the ratepayers of SJWC reward the performance of the executives and managers who are in the final analysis represent the financial interests of the stockowners in SJW Corp. Keep in mind SJWC has a Senior VP and a staff to "optimize" the corporation revenues (you may read as "raise our rates" if you choose). (Please note:  I own 10 shares of SJW stock mainly to allow me to attend the annual meetings.)

    ORA and the ALJ Tzen Proposed Settlement both appear to have taken positions opposing ratepayers paying for bonuses. Now we see what the Commission approves?
  • WRAM (Water Rate Adjustment Mechanism) basically separates the profits from the SJWC performance.

    ORA and the ALJ Tzen Proposed Settlement both oppose the requirement for providing SJWC with a WRAM.
  • There's a complex argument going on about the "windfall" of about $8 million dollars that SJWC has gotten as a result changes to the tax laws. The question that SJWC hasn't been willing to compromise on is "who gets the windfall"? Does SJWC get the windfall or does it credited to the ratepayers who actually paid the money originally? SJWC argues that the money should be kept by the corporation, since no one caught the effects on their taxes, or at least said nothing till the "Statue of Limitations was passed-went into the next Rate Case",  and it would be retroactive to before the current General Rate Case........... It appears to me that we paid the money and at a minimum ratepayers should get credits offsetting some of the current drought and other adjustments being applied to our bills from SJWC. It's not very fair to ratepayers to guarantee SJWC profits and also have them take the "tax windfalls" which we actually paid for. This is "not" a crime just an oversight and potentially untimely disclosure, that conveniently is to the detriment of the ratepayer.

    The $8 million spread across 250,000 ratepayers bills means that the projected increase over the next year could be reduced from $7.00/month to about $4.50/month. Note: SJWC got to use the money for several years, but let's not be picky about 10% or less............

    There is at least hope that moving forward from 2016 the Commission will approve that SJWC and other utilities have the requirement to make losses know to CPUC (they've been very good at this part) and as well SJWC and utilities make "windfall gains" known to CPUC, to allow the ratepayers interests to be protected.

    For readers who need bedtime reading, click for the ORA arguments.
  • NTP&S (Non-Tariffed Products & Services) this covers the use of SJWC labor hours on things like cell tower rental space and my favorite the Home Emergency Insurance Solutions (aka HEIS) coverage for the water pipe between the SJWC water meter and the external connection to your house. The terms still have been disclosed by SJWC, but it's safe to assume SJWC gets a 10% cut of the monthly premium.

    ORA and SJWC apparently reached a non-precedent setting agreement, on the amount of dollar$ during the current rate case. SJWC did a terminator, "ve'll be bachk!". Since there's money involved I'm sure they will raise the issues again.
  • SJWC requested increase in staffing by roughly 33 positions during the current GRC (2016, 17 18)

    ORA opposed the number and it appears the ALJ Tzen shares concerns, the proposal is 6 positions including the three previously added by SJWC.
There are other issues, but these seem to me to be more significant and controversial, at least they were opposed by SJWC. I'll update this when the Commission rules on the GRC A1501002 and we can see if the "Ghost of the Past President lurks in the CPUC chambers".

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 currently contested issues 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. 

Please consider pasting the following, or parts you agree with, when you fill in the eForm or send an email to the CPUC Public Advisor:
"I am concerned about the General Rate Case A1501002 that SJW Corp./SJWC has submitted to CPUC, for approval. I'm concerned about the potential effect this may have on increased future water rates and the continuing practice making access to information by ratepayers difficult. I don't approve ratepayers rates paying bonuses to SJWC Executives who have obligations to the shareholders that approve their pay, which may represent a clear conflict of interest. I also oppose providing a WRAM and separating revenues from expenses and guaranteeing SJWC profits. Reducing SJWC motivation to control expenses."
CPUC Public Advisopublic.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov  Reference San Jose Water Company (SJWC) A1508016.The Public Adviser will insure your email will be sent to all the appropriate CPUC staff members and commissioners. 

Other people to drop an email (note) and express your opinion are:

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