San Jose Water Company, the investor-owned utility that provides water for most of the South Bay, is angling for yet another rate hike. In a petition filed last week with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the company said it needs the price bump to cover upward of $400 million in infrastructure upgrades.
San Jose Water—which serves San Jose, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga and unincorporated Santa Clara County—said the rate increase would add $12.84 a month over the coming few years for the typical customer.
That’s a 9.76 percent rate increase in 2019, 3.7 percent in 2020 and 5.17 percent in 2012, accounting for a total of $34 million in additional charges. The general rate case application (available online here) kicks off a yearlong review process, which allows time for legal review and public input.
In a press release sent out last week, San Jose Water CEO Eric Thornburg said the 150-year-old company needs the additional revenue to replace aging water mains, storage tanks and pump stations. Since 2005, he added, the utility has spent more than $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades.
The water company’s rate hike petition comes just as the CPUC approved a 4.22 percent rate increase, which went into effect at the start of 2018. WRATES, a citizen watchdog group, called the CPUC’s authorization a disappointment in light of the fact that San Jose Water admitted to overcharging customers by at least $1.8 million.
“The ratepayers have unsuccessfully tried for over a year to work within the parameters of the broken CPUC system,” WRATES member Rita Benton wrote to the CPUC earlier this month. “We, the ratepayers, are utterly dismayed with the lack of urgency and progress the CPUC has taken in the unsustainable water rates it has created in our communities by not properly regulating the utilities.”