James Hunter

Thursday, June 8, 2017

SJWC needs to wear a mask, customer robbery in progress!

Bloggers comment, Filing a formal complaint resulted in Raminder Kahlon (CPUC Water and Rates), stalling the complaint process, so that one or more ex parte conversations were held during a 4 week delay in processing, to allow SJWC to devise a response (Advice Letter 510) then be told that signatures were required by CPUC. It appears to the blogger that while there was a reported verbal admission of ex parte discussions actual transcripts of the discussions are apparently not available, nor a list of participants - "How convenient", blogger.

Additionally there is the generously CPUC provided statue of limitations, for accounting errors. It doesn't say it's bi-directional, so it appears this was added to specifically protect the utilities from those ravenous customers, attempting to get fair treatment. If they were willing to spend the time to understand the SJWC bills.

VI. Statute of Limitations

Pub. Util. Code § 736 states in pertinent part:

"All complaints for damages resulting from the violation of any of the provisions of Section 494 [common carriers shall not charge other than applicable rates] or 532 [public utilities shall not charge other than rate specified in its schedules] shall either be filed with the commission, or, where concurrent jurisdiction of the cause of action is vested in the courts of this state, in any court of competent jurisdiction within three years from the time the action accrues, and not after."

Blogger comment: I thought improved "transparency and ex parte reporting requirements were supposed to be implemented by CPUC"?  

The WRATES and the author Rita Benton provided permission for this blogger to post a copy of following update below.
WRATES Update #14
Thank you to all who responded so quickly to the request for signatures for the formal complaint against SJWC regarding the Service Charge Overcharges. I received over 50 signatures in less than a day. I am so impressed with you all. I refiled the formal complaint on May 30, 2017. I was informed on June 7, 2017 by the docket office that I needed to jump through a few more hoops (the ~8000 petition signature file I submitted is too large and I needed to create a link to the file on the WRATES website and I will need to mail 9 DVD copies of the ~8000 petition signature file). I created the link on the WRATES website and I will purchase and mail the DVDs to the CPUC asap. At 4:44pm today, history was made and my formal complaint finally received a docket number - C.17-06-009. You can view the complaint and supporting documents at the CPUC website at the link below:
Much has happened since my last update...
1. As you know, SJWC filed Advice Letter 508 and 508A on May 2 and May 4 respectively. They then filed advice letter 508B on May 26 and it was quickly approved by the CPUC two days later. Our protests for advice letter 508(A) did not sway the CPUC Water Division’s decision. Because of this approval, SJWC is allowed to recover the 2014 & 2015 WCMA more quickly so our rates increased for the typical user using 15ccf/mo. an additional 3.30% (not .95%) on June 1, 2017.
2. SJWC filed Advice Letter 509 and 509A on May 26, 2017. This will increase our rates an additional 3.66% for the typical user using 15ccf/mo. This is the pass through increase to offset the purchased and ground water charges from SCVWD (9.6% x 38% = 3.66%). This increase will go into effect on July 1, 2017. WRATES is not going to protest this advice letter. WRATES already fought this increase with the SCVWD in late 2016 and early 2017 and succeeded in reducing SCVWD’s wholesale rate increase from 16.7% down to 9.6%. Had SCVWD increased its wholesale rate 16.7%, advice letter 509(A) would be seeking a rate increase of 6.35%. Small victory.
And now for the BIG Advice Letter....
3. SJWC filed Advice Letter 510 on June 6, 2017. https://sjwater.s3.amazonaws.com/files/documents/ADV510Web.pdf
With this advice letter, SJWC is requesting a surcredit refund to its customers for the service charge overcharges. If approved, each residential customer with a 3/4” meter will be refunded $5.70, 1” will be refunded $9.49 etc. I have protested this advice letter because SJWC overcharged its customers in excess of $13 million and it is seeking to refund its customers only $1.7 million. That is not just or fair. 
I sent the following email to the CPUC Water Division and Commissioners and News outlets. I believe this story is newsworthy. Please call news organizations and share this information, the formal complaint and supporting documents.
Advice Letter 510 is completely unjust and unfair. Whatever agreement the CPUC Water Division and SJWC worked out to refund the ratepayer for the service charge overcharges is unacceptable. The service charge overcharges are well in excess of $13 million dollars, not $1.7 million as stated in Advice Letter 510. This settlement does not address several key points.
The CPUC and SJWC have circumvented the formal complaint I filed with the CPUC on April 17, 2017. My formal complaint was put on hold for unknown reasons on April 18, 2017 by Raminder Kahlon and then taken off hold by Raminder Kahlon on May 22, 2017 after my inquires. I refiled the formal complaint on May 30, 2017, including 70 signatures to comply with Rule 4.1(b) which requires only 25 signatures. I was informed by the docket office of Rule 4.1(b) a few days after Raminder Kahlon took the complaint off hold. Raminder Kahlon then informed me of Rule 4.1(b) a day later implying that that was why my complaint was on hold.
There are inadequate details about how SJWC calculated the surcredit. All dates and amounts of overcharges need to be clearly explained and documented. 
Advice Letter 510 only acknowledges a small, 3 year period of overcharges. SJWC has been overcharging its customers for decades.
There is no explanation as to how SJWC arrived at 22.4% as a percentage of the current service charge.
Advice Letter 510 ignores the fact that customers were double-billed during the transition from billing in advance to billing in arrears.
The PUC surcharge which is affected by the overcharges is not addressed. There should be a PUC surcharge adjustment.
The San Jose City tax which is affected by the overcharges is not addressed. There should be a San Jose City tax adjustment.
Interest on overcharges is not addressed. The ratepayer should be entitled to the interest SJWC earned on the overcharges.
As I stated in several of my previous emails, letters and phone calls, the service charge overcharges that SJWC has been charging its customers for decades needs a formal forensic audit not an “internal informal investigation” as stated by the Water Division. Advice Letter 510 proves that point. 
I respectfully request that Advice Letter 510 be rejected so all information can be properly examined through a formal investigation. The ratepayers are entitled to and deserve justice against SJWC. It is time for the CPUC to honor its mission statement and align itself with the ratepayer and not the utility.
To recap the Advice Letter Rate Increases since January 1, 2017
AL 498 - 3.83% - general rate case increase - approved
AL 501 - 3.65% - SRM drought shortfall recovery - rejected & SJWC currently appealing
AL 506 - 1.51% - Montevina Upgrade Project - approved
AL 508 - 3.30% - 2014/15 WCMA mandatory conservation recovery - approved
AL 509 - 3.66% - SCVWD pass through increase - approval expected
TOTAL: 12.30% rate increases thus far and if SJWC is successful at appealing AL 501, the total increase will be 15.95%.
Since 2013, the CPUC has allowed SJWC to increase its rates an average of 20% per year and at this rate, SJWC should achieve or surpass their 20% increase for 2017. If your anger towards the CPUC and SJWC has subsided, it shouldn’t. Our water is quickly becoming unaffordable. 
Please take some time to read this document I found on the CPUC’s website called “Water Rate Scenario Planning”. The CPUC is using SJWC in their 5 Scenarios and lists the Avg User as 10 CCF/month, High User as 15 CCF/month and Very High User as 20 CCF/month. None of the scenarios include all the additional surcharges we receive on our bills and it looks like they intend to increase our rates even more. 
Additional CPUC working documents can be found at http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/ppd_work/
WRATES members are also analyzing SJWC’s Cost of Capital application 17-04-001 that was filed on April 10, 2017. This Cost of Capital is the foundation for the next general rate case for setting our rates for the years 2019, 20 & 21. I will keep you updated when I have more information to share.

Please take a moment and:

Sign the "Outrageous Water Bills" petition at http://www.change.org 

If you have valid grounds for a complaint go to
http://www.sjwfacts.weebly.com  and click on File Complaint

No comments:

Post a Comment