BWP Proposes Water, Electric Rate Increases

Burbank Water and Power is asking City Council approval to raise its utility rates starting this October to help pay for infrastructure costs.
The increases would be relatively minor for most residents, BWP officials told City Council members on Tuesday. The proposal includes a 1.24% electric rate bump in October and April estimated to total a higher monthly bill of $2.17 for single-family homes.
The utility also proposed a 1.96% water rate increase in October, January and April, reflecting a total estimated bump of $2.47 for small-family residences using 6,000 gallons of water per month, and a monthly uptick of $4.08 for medium-family residences using twice that amount.
BWP General Manager Dawn Lindell explained that the utility decided to phase in rate increases during the 2021-22 fiscal year because of the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if the City Council approves the rates in future fiscal years, prices will continue to increase by a projected 6% annually for water starting July 2022 and 2.8% annually for electricity starting the same month.
Those rate increases would be planned through at least 2025.
Council members expressed some concern regarding the rate jumps, particularly since the steeper rate bumps are scheduled for the beginning of the summer. Though BWP isn’t proposing any rate increases prior to this summer, future increases would occur during the season when watering and air conditioning are frequent.
“It just doesn’t seem fair, that high of a rate hitting the ratepayers, the residents, in these peak months when we know that that’s really when they need the energy,” said Mayor Bob Frutos.
The City Council will vote on whether to approve the rate schedule and 2021-22 fiscal year municipal budget during its public hearing on May 25.
Lindell told council members that the rates were reasonable, explaining that by the end of fiscal year 2024-25 under the proposed schedule, Burbank’s water rates would still be lower than those currently charged by Glendale, Los Angeles and Pasadena.
She added that BWP had refrained from increasing its rates last year, and had only increased its electric rate once — by 1% — in the past four years.
The rate increases are needed, Lindell said, to allow the utility to continue its sustainability initiatives and make repairs to infrastructure.
According to the BWP’s proposed budget, expenses related to the electric fund are expected to increase by about 3.9%, or roughly $10.2 million, from this fiscal year to the next. The water fund’s expenses are projected to increase by more than 15.7%, or $6.2 million.
The utility also proposed a rate increase of 2% — estimated at about 66 cents for most single-family homes — for refuse services effective July 2022, while no rate increase was proposed for sewer services.