More (sur)charges from Golden State?

Dear Editor:

Golden State Water Company is at it again with their July bill. They have added an “Intervenor Compensation Surcharge” ($.84 for us) with no explanation. I thought I could get an immediate, simple explanation on the GSW website but, silly me, I received prompt emails but no answers until the third person, who sent the following: “Beginning June 1, 2014, as required by Section 792.5 of the Public Utilities Code, an increase (N) in purchased power of $0.0329/kWh, an increase in purchased water of $0.0714/Ccf, and an increase in Pump Tax of $0.02989/Ccf, relative to the Purchased Power, Purchased Water, and Pump Tax costs adopted by Decision No. 13-05-011, and an associated revenue increase of 2.24 percent, are being tracked in a reserve account.”

This section reads like it might be reimbursement for additional expenses, right? But I thought the increases listed are covered in the WRAM/MCBA surcharges. In addition, there is also a tiny note on the back of the bill that says “Effective June 1, 2014, your bill includes an increase to offset the rise in supply expenses,” and another, “As of July 1, 2014 your bill reflects a temporary increase to recover the billing system maintenance costs.” Where are these shown on the bill?

So, when in doubt about facts, Google it! Eureka! I discovered that the California Public Utilities Commission has something called the Intervenor Compensation Program. This program provides grants to individuals and groups that participate in CPUC hearings. Upon further digging, I find that this is what our surcharge is—I think. It goes to The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a group that represents utility ratepayers. Apparently, TURN was involved in Claremont’s rate increases disputes at the CPUC hearings. Maybe they tried to help our side. GSW is allowed to pass on this grant cost, but it would be nice if they informed us and their employees. By the way, the surcharge is based on meter size. We have a one-inch meter, thus $.84. The chart is online.

I did not really want to spend three hours researching another surcharge. Now, if GSW would just tell me why I have two sets of charges on the July bill...


Sharon Wiley Hightower