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.