• No surprises as Cal-Am files three-legged approach with CPUC

    Water purveyor requesting a ramp-up of rates approaching 2016 deadline

    Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency last Friday, April 20, the water purveyor for the Peninsula filed a project overview with the California Public Utilities Commission today, April 23, to build a small seawater desalination facility in North Marina and to purchase Groundwater Replenishment water from public agencies. That, along with aquifer storage of any excess water, will replace water curretnly being pumped in excess of state restrictions from the Carmel River. The desalination plant would have a capacity of about 5,500 acre-feet per year, while 3,500 acre feet per year is expected from the recycling facility.
    The proposed site is slightly north of the earlier approved site, plans for which have fallen through, and near the MRWPCA facility, which will make powering the desal plant easier.
    Slant wells are the preferred intake method, and Cal Am seeks to drill a test well soon.
    In the event that ground water replenishment is found to be either not timely or cost-effective, Cal Am seeks approval to build a 9,000 acre-feet per year desalination facility. That decision, said California American Water president Rob McLean in a presentation to Monterey Peninsula mayors, will be made in early 2015.
    Cal-Am is planning to make revisions to an existing Environmental Impact Report, trusting that a new “ground-up” report will not be necessary. A new EIR would seriously delay the project, and delay of any sort could result in rationing and skyrocketing bills to force cutbacks in usage.
    The project is not going to be cheap, but it was never going to be inexpensive. “We will be proposing a rate base offset of $100 million through a surcharge on customers’ bills,” McLean said in his presentation before the Mayors’ Joint Powers Authority meeting; sort of a pay-as-you-go during construction, intended to avoid sticker shock when the project is completed.
    If the PUC approves, customers will begin seeing the ramp-up beginning in the second half of the year 2013 when rates will rise, for the average bill, about 30 percent. Six months later, another 15 percent will be tacked on, and another 15 percent will show up on bills by the second half of 2014, after which rates should stabilize through 2016.
    Some 8800 low water usage customers who currently pay about $21.12 per month will eventually see their bills go to a range of $40 to $56 by year 2017. $17 to $24 of that is related to the water supply project.
    People in the 50th percentile, the median, currently pay about $28.90 and will see their bills go to $54 to $79 per month of which $22 to $33 is related to the water project. The average bill of $34.00 will go to $64 to $93 per month. There are also about 1300 customers who currently use 16 cubic feet of water per month and will see their bills go from $146.58 to as much as $198 or more.
    There are other capital costs which Cal-Am is passing on to ratepayers, such as the San Clement Dam project and the Sand City Desal plant, which is already online.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 23, 2012

    Topics: Breaking News, Front PG News, Marge Ann Jameson

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