CPUC building SF (copy)

The CPUC's building near San Francisco City Hall. 

A ruling that promises to rein in the surcharges appearing on the water bills of $3 million ratepayers in Monterey County and elsewhere in California is coming up for a vote at the California Public Utilities Commission meeting on Thursday, Aug. 27 at 10am. 

The vote was originally scheduled to take place on Aug. 6 but was postponed at the last minute. 

The water bill reform is being proposed by CPUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves with backing from the agency’s Public Advocate’s Office. Aceves says the surcharge system failed to incentive conservation as originally intended and just ended up making water bills more expensive. Water utilities have collected an estimated $1 billion in surcharges over the past 12 years.

“The more customer-friendly program up for adoption at the CPUC will require water utilities to be more transparent with forecasting while incentivizing customers to conserve water,” according to a statement from Maya Chupkov, a spokesperson for the Public Advocate’s Office. “This will lead to more affordable bills for Californians, significantly reducing the potential for high surcharges.”

Water utilities led by California Water Service, which serves Salinas, have mounted a lobbying and public relations campaign in an effort to scuttle the surcharge reform proposal. 

“The flawed analysis of the data has resulted in a proposed decision that seeks to change something that isn’t broken,” says Shelly Sullivan of Bicker Castillo & Fairbanks Public Relations, the firm representing California Water Service. 

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers the environment, agriculture and K-12 education, as well as Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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