On August 27, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will vote on a proposal by Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves to eliminate the Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM) surcharges on water bills. This is estimated to save us 10 to15 percent on our bills.
The Peninsula is the poster child for WRAM abuse! The public is encouraged to comment virtually.
Remember that $64 million that Cal Am added to our water bills after the last drought? Cal Am charged us for all the water that we didn’t use due to our heroic conservation efforts. That’s how WRAM surcharges work. You save water and get billed more for it later!
Ten years ago WRAM surcharges were adopted by the CPUC as a mechanism to encourage conservation. The idea was to eliminate the companies’ financial incentive to maximize sales and profit and to ensure that investor-owned utilities like Cal Am don’t lose revenue if customers conserve water.
But it turns out punishing people for conserving water by charging them more doesn’t encourage conservation. As Commissioner Guzman Aceves said in defending her proposal to do away with WRAM, “…customers are conserving water, not utilities, and customers cannot understand why their bills go up after their usage goes down.”
Water companies are lobbying hard to keep the WRAM surcharge. They would lose billions of dollars if this passes. They’ve actually launched a campaign to convince customers that dropping the WRAM surcharges will raise bills. It’s working. I counted over 400 comments on the CPUC site opposing this ratepayer friendly proposal. Commissioner Guzman Aceves has called it “a brazen campaign of misinformation.”
Don’t let Cal Am and these investor-owned water utilities block this. The CPUC needs to hear from all of us on August 27 at 10am. Here’s the link and instructions on speaking: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/
You can also post your comment to the CPUC at
Melodie Chrislock is managing director of Public Water Now.