James Hunter

Another SJWC Rate Increase, for WRAP

WRAP (Water Ratepayer Assistance Program) provides low income SJWC Ratepayers a 15% discount.

This increase is actually for a potentially more reasonable cause. It's also a thin slice.........adding $0.95 (for a total of $1.15 per month) per month per Ratepayer. I do question that it's currently $0.20 per month, increasing to $1.15 is about a 475% increase! Currently the San Jose Water Company has about 227,000 (SJW Corp.Annual Report, page 3) connections/ratepayers or they want us to pay another $2,508,000 per year.  The increases year to date before the General Rate Case is resolved (3 year 44% Rate Increase requested and pending), bring us to 33.7% (7.5% total this year if this is approved by CPUC) of the requested rate increase of 21.51% for 2013. 

SJWC is justifying this request this large and dramatic increase, because of the large and dramatic increase in the number of participants in the WRAP program. There has been a significant increase in low-income ratepayers getting the WRAP. (I liked the wording in the Public Notice.)

There seems to be a connection to the PG&E low income program? If you qualify for PG&E you get grandfathered into SJWC WRAP? 
  • San Jose Water Company’s program automatically qualifies customers enrolled in PG&E’s rate assistance CARE program.  (Click to see WRAP Application)
Another version of the WRAP Application, on the SJWC website)

If so the question is how come 10% of the SJWC ratepayers were "automatically" enrolled, in the WRAP program. Now it appears some of the PG&E low income program participants may be fraudullantly participating.............. was any attempt made by SJWC to verify and qualify or did they simply assume the PG&E records and documents were correct, seems to me PG&E misplaced the records regarding location, status and repairs/inspections of gas pipelines. Why should SJWC trust this info and use it to justify a 475% increase in our surcharge. Keep in mind "WE" get to pay for unlawful participation in PG&E LI and SJWC WRAP programs, let's make sure SJWC is motivated to be sure the program is fair and participants truly need and deserve the discount we are paying for!

The chart below shows roughly 17.07% (RED) of San Jose households may meet the low income program, income requirements. So assume that the current number is 24,400 based on the filing with CPUC can we expect an almost if the number of participants grow to 38,749 based on the numbers? In a year the monthly surcharge going from $1.15 to $1.72, another 50% increase at the next annual evaluation of the surcharge?

Household Income Statistics (source Clsearch)

2010 Household Income Statistics
San Jose, CA
Total Area Household Income
Median Household Income
Average Household Income
Per Capita Household Income

Income Less than $15,000
Income $15,000 to $24,999
Income $25,000 to $34,999
Income $35,000 to $49,999
Income $50,000 to $74,999
Income $75,000 to $99,999
Income $100,000 to $124,999
Income $125,000 to $149,999
Income $150,000 to $199,999
Income $200,000 and Over

OK where's the salami (oops beef), not to say Richard Roth's and Palle Jensen's very generous compensation and benefits. Did I say anything about SJWC paying for Mr. Roth's luxury Audi model 8. Mr. Palle's is certainly justifying his princely salary (according to SEC filings) and performance bonus, because he seems to be able to raise our rates, with little difficulty, but I'm afraid it may be at our expense.

How about some disclosure and "gasp" transparency. What is the actual percentage of the $2.5 million passed through to low income ratepayers? How many low income ratepayers actually qualified to receive the 15% discount? Let's have less "large and dramatic" and more justifications that make sense. How much possibly the PG&E records, in error?

The following link is to the actual filing document. Let's see what the figures say: 
  1. During April 2013 24,400 low income ratepayers participated in WRAP
  2. Each received a 15% monthly discount
  3. I'll try to be generous in my estimate of the average monthly bill, $50.00
  4. So, we get 24,400 x $50 x 15% = $183,000
  5. Annually discounts would total roughly $2,196,000 compared to collections of $2,508,000
So we seem to be in the ballpark "what's $300,000 only more benefits or a couple of more luxury vehicles, for the executives. I would still like to see the SJWC calculation and an explanation where the $300,000 annually is being spent on.

This is looking awfully reasonable........I better keep looking. There's got to be a slice of  Salami in this somewhere, Oops! It appears SJWC (Palle Jensen?) wants a method to get a bigger slice each year without the "drudgery" of requesting approval and going through the "onerous" practice and procedure currently:

It seems that's like an Evergreen Sales Agreement, it automatically renews annually, but this is better you get to change the payments each year or in their words,. "to institute an annual surcharge adjustment mechanism". I may have missed it, but there's no clearly defined mechanism to rebate overcharges to ratepayers?

If you are concerned send email to CPUC at:

CPUC Public Advisor,  public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov  The Public Advisor will insure your email will be sent to the appropriate CPUC staff members.

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 44% Rate Increase.

Please include the following points in your email:

"I oppose the proposed SJWC Application No. 13-6-008 Requesting a large and dramatic  increase. of 475%, to the Monthly WRAP Surcharge ."

State one or more reasons...............
  • I want more information justifying the 475% increase, for the monthly WRAP surcharge!
  • I want more information about the major increase of participants, how many did get "grandfathered" into the SJWC WRAP based on data supplied by PG&E!
  • I want more information assuring me that, all or nearly all,  this money will go to low income Ratepayers!
  • I don't want this to annually renew without CPUC review and justification of the expense!

Link to Original Notice in the Mercury News click here

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