San Jose Water Company
2016 General Rate Case (GRC)

 

Background

San Jose Water Company serves over 1 million people and is responsible for the supply and distribution of water for domestic and industrial purposes for portions of the Cities of San Jose and Cupertino, as well as the cities of Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and unincorporated Santa Clara County.  

On January 5, 2015, the San Jose Water Company filed an Application requesting CPUC approval to increase rates for water service over present levels: 

  • 2016: $ 34.9 million (12.22%)    
     
  • 3-Year Cumulative Total = $62.4 million  

Specifically, the proposed rate increase is driven by these key areas: 

  • $94 million in Capital Investment Budgets   
  • $  7.6 million in Conservation Expenses 
  • $  8.7 million in Tax Related  
  • $  7.1 million in Capital Investment Recovery 
  • $  4.8 million in Purchased Services 
  • $  4.4 million in Staffing, including 33 new positions
     

San Jose Water proposed the following policy changes: 

  • Update its funding surcharge for the Water Ratepayer Assistance Program 
  • Offer customers the option of paying their water bills using credit and debit cards either online or by phone.    
  • Implement a full Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM).   

 

 Proposed Settlement 

On July 24, 2015, ORA and San Jose Water Company filed a joint motion requesting CPUC approval of a partial Settlement Agreement, in which the two parties agreed on expenditures related to capital investments (plant additions). See the Comparison Table. 

San Jose Water also agreed that it would track its costs for Research, Development and Demonstration Projects, Intervenor Compensation, and Pension expenses.     

 

Supplemental Proposed Settlement

On August 13, 2015, ORA and San Jose Water Company filed a joint motion requesting CPUC approval of a Supplemental Settlement Agreement, in which San Jose Water agreed not to pursue its request of $442,440 in labor related costs for its affiliate business. However parties agreed that they would not stipulate to the methodology for allocating such costs. 

  

Litigated Issues 

The remaining litigated issues included San Jose Water's requests to: 

  • Implement a full Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism, which would allow the utility to seek cost recovery from ratepayers for all undercollected revenues. 
  • Track Health Care costs. 
  • Tracking of costs due to changes in tax laws. 
  • Calculation of forecasted labor overtime costs.    

 

 CPUC Proposed Decision 

On April 22, 2016, the CPUC issued a Proposed Decision on San Jose Water's rate case, which would increase San Jose Water rates:  

  • 2016: $ 25.0 million (8.56%)    
     
  • 3-Year Cumulative Total = $54.7 million  

See the Comparison Table illustrating rate impacts in key areas.  

The Proposed Decision also resolves the remaining litigated issues by: 

  • Denying San Jose's request for a full Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism. 
  • Denying the tracking of Health Care costs. 
  • Approving San Jose's request to not track tax related costs. 
  • Approving San Jose's request for forecasted labor overtime costs. 
     

CPUC Final Decision

On June 9, 2016, the CPUC adopted the Proposed Decision as its Final Decision. 

 

 

ORA Policy Position

CPUC Decision 

ORA generally supports the CPUC's Proposed Decision as it provides San Jose with sufficient revenues to operate its water service safely and reliably, as well as generally comports with ORA's recommendations for rate increases. ORA commends the Proposed Decision for denying San Jose's request for a full Water Revenue Adjustment Mechanism (WRAM). San Jose's current revenue adjustment mechanism is consistent with promoting water conservation, whereas a full WRAM approach would  encourage the utility to seek recovery for all undercollections from its customers, rather than to manage the needs of its system in a more efficient manner.
 

ORA Analysis and Recommendations 

 ORA performed an in-depth review of San Jose Water's Application and makes the following recommendations for revenue increases: 

  • 2016:  $23,468,000 or 8.54%
     
     
  • 3-Year Cumulative Total = $53.5 million  

ORA's analysis shows that San Jose Water has over-estimated its revenue needs in the areas of Capital Improvement Projects, Cost of Labor, and Conservation.  

ORA’s recommendation for a smaller increase in service rates is offset by ORA’s recommendation that San Jose Water should use a lower water consumption forecast, given the Governor’s Order to significantly increase water conservation. Lower water consumption will result in the collection of less revenue from customers, which means that San Jose Water will need additional revenue to cover its fixed costs required to run its utility operations and reliably serve customers' water needs.  

Additionally, ORA is recommending that the cost of San Jose Water’s Recycled Water retrofit program be spread across 2016-2018 in order to decrease the burden on customers. 

While ORA’s overall recommendation is $7.2 million (11.86%) lower than San Jose Water’s request, the impact of the conservation mandate and the more even distribution of Recycled Water costs would result in slightly higher increases for 2017 and 2018. 

See ORA's April 24, 2015 Testimony in response to San Jose Water's GRC Application. 

See ORA’s February 2, 2014 Protest to San Jose Water’s GRC Application. 

 

 

Proceeding Status 

See the CPUC Proceeding docket.  

   

 

Other Resources

Archives

2013 San Jose Water Company GRC