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Claremont Fights To Keep Water Rates from Rising

Council members and city staff have met to discuss ways to stop the Golden State Water Company from raising rates next year.

The fight to keep Claremont water rates from rising continued recently as Mayor Larry Schroeder and Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali met with City Manager Tony Ramos to discuss their opposition to Golden State Water Company's pending application before the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The water company is attempting to raise next year’s water rates by more than 25 percent, Claremont city officials said through a news release.

Among those present at the meeting were city attorneys who provided updates on the legal actions being initiated or explored relative to the potential acquisition of the water delivery infrastructure, officials wrote.

"Our community is being held hostage by a broken regulatory system at the state level. The current process does not provide adequate access for our ratepayer's voices to be heard; instead, the public is required to put their blind trust in a handful of state bureaucrats," Schroeder said. “While Claremont continues to fight Golden State Water's rate application, significant progress has been made regarding the appraisal of the water system for possible acquisition."

According to city officials, the Division of Ratepayers Advocate recently announced it would recommend a 15.1 percent increase in 2013 for Golden State Water Company.

Officials call the non-binding recommendation an obvious compromise between the water company and PUC staff. An Administrative Law Judge will review the recommendation before it is sent to the utilities commission’s governing body.

While Claremont was filing a legal motion to oppose the advocate group’s proposed settlement, officials point out that Golden State Water's parent company announced that its quarterly profits exceeded $15 million, stating that a portion of the profits are a direct result of increased rates in Claremont.

"Finally, Golden State Water admitted something we have always known: they are profiting from and exploiting Claremont ratepayers. For the DRA to suggest an increase for a publically traded company, while the ink on their earnings announcement isn't even dry, highlights the desperate need for reform. I look forward to reviewing all options available to the council, including permanently eliminating Golden State Water as Claremont's water service provider," Mayor Schroeder said.

Earlier this summer, the Claremont City Council directed city staff to explore all options available regarding the acquisition of the water delivery system from Golden State Water Company, officials said. Ratepayers in Claremont are forced to pay some of the highest water rates in California. It is anticipated that the appraisal of Golden State Water within Claremont will be available and presented to the City Council in October.

Scott in Claremont August 30, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Claremont should dump Golden State Water, they've gouged residents long enough! A municipal water company could lower water rates and keep any revenue here in the City. City run conservation and rebate programs could help us meet our 20% reduction by 2020 goals, now required by the State. Ojai is doing it, so should we... http://www.ojaiflow.com/ . Enough is enough.
Claremonter August 30, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Its not that easy Scott - while I agree with your implicit point that Golden State's rates are too high - like it or not Golden State owns the water system in fee and Claremont would have to either negoiate the purchase of the assets ((like would have to be done if they were buying a builing) or alternatively excercise their powers of eminent domain but even then they would have to pay fair market prices for the assets. When you factor in the cost of those assets (plus interest because I doubt Clarement has the reserves to make a cash purchase) over say 20 or 30 years ON TOP OF the operating costs - I do not see how it could possibly LOWER rates - in other words be careful what you ask for
Scott in Claremont August 31, 2012 at 03:45 AM
I like the Ojai model. 1. Form a revenue improvement district encompassing the the service area. 2. Hold an election among the registered voters of the proposed revenue improvement district to consider issuing revenue bonds, not to exceed $xx,000,000, for the purposes of purchasing the Golden State water system and making needed improvements to that water system. 3. In addition to the standard rates for like customers, apply a water surcharge of $2.50 per hundred cubic foot of water on all water served in the improvement district for a period not to exceed 30 years for the purposes of serving the debt and funding needed improvements. 4. Replace Golden State with xx Water District (or Claremont Water) as the Claremont area water purveyor. http://www.ojaiflow.com/

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