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Community

CPUC approves rate increases for Cal Water's Los Altos customers

The California Public Utilities Commission recently set water utility rates for customers of California Water Service Co. through 2016, marking the end of the mandatory review process that began in 2012. The new rates take effect Friday.

For the typical residential customer using 14,212 gallons of water per month, water bills will increase $2.63 per month, or 9 cents per day, to $79.90 in 2014, with smaller, inflationary increases in 2015 and 2016.

Because the rate decision was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2014, the utility has been authorized to collect revenues retroactively to recover the difference between interim and new rates through a temporary surcharge, beginning in mid-September. Cal Water will provide additional information to customers with their bills.

Cal Water was also authorized to increase the benefit for customers enrolled in its Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance program.

Cal Water officials said they plan to make infrastructure improvements, including replacing aging water mains. New rates will also help cover higher expenses associated with operating and maintaining the water system, including those incurred to meet water quality standards and environmental regulations, enable safety improvements and improve preventive maintenance.

The rates were adopted after a 25-month review process in which the commission’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates audited Cal Water’s system, operations, books and needs.

“We are committed to providing our customers with a safe and reliable water supply, and these water system improvements will enable us to do so,” said Ron Richardson, Cal Water’s Los Altos district manager. “But with costs to provide water service increasing across the country, we are ever mindful of the need to operate as efficiently as possible to keep rates affordable.”

The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for setting regulated water utilities’ rates and ensuring that those rates accurately reflect the actual, dollar-for-dollar costs of providing water service, with a reasonable return only on the funds invested in water-system infrastructure.

Cal Water serves approximately 67,940 customers through 18,800 service connections in Los Altos and portions of Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino and Sunnyvale. The company has provided water service in the area since 1931.

For more information, visit calwater.com.

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