San Jose Water Company’s General Water Rate Increase Application Opposition Letter
Dear PUC President Batjer and Commissioners,
I am writing to you to express my strong opposition to San Jose Water Company’s (SJW) General Rate Case (GRC) application requesting a total of $88M increase in the cost of service over the three-year period of 2022–2024, and the recovery of $7M (balancing account) and $11M (memorandum account) via customer surcharges beginning January 1, 2022, for 36 months or until recovered. Please delay approval of SJW’s rate increase request.
Now is not the time to place any kind of additional financial burden on our residents. As we all know well, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a catastrophic toll on not just this community, but the country as a whole. Our residents are suffering through the severe economic impacts that COVID-19 has had on each and every individual. While vaccine distribution offers us a glimmer of hope, it does not immediately alleviate the pressures being felt on all our pocketbooks.
An increase in water rates at this time would be rubbing salt into the wound of all SJW customers. Being compassionate means putting ourselves in others’ shoes and understanding that everyone has their own battles they may be facing. SJW customers are small business owners who are struggling to keep their doors open. SJW customers are adults who have lost their jobs and are trying their best to make ends meet in a widespread weakened economy. SJW customers are families who have trouble affording proper medical care or health insurance. SJW customers have not only themselves but their young children to support. SJW customers are being forced to decide between paying their water bill or putting food on the table for their families. Our residents should never be faced with such a decision. Above all, SJW customers are residents who should be given grace, especially during this time. This rate increase could very well be the additional burden that pushes a struggling individual over the edge financially. We need to do everything in our power to ensure this does not happen.
A delayed rate increase is not unheard of. Just last year, the City of San José postponed an increase in garbage and recycling rates. This decision, though it may seem like a small expense to some, was very impactful for many. It saved our residents from another added financial burden. Financial burdens turn into mental and emotional stressors. This pandemic has put mental, emotional, and financial strain on all of us. Taking care of our residents’ well-being needs to be a priority.
The decisions being made need to be consistent with the times we are living in and the new obstacles presented to all of us. Please delay approval of SJW’s rate increase request.