BWP Rate Increases Need to Be Justified

First published in the April 16 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank Water and Power is requesting the approval of large rate increases that would be effective July 1. As in past years, BWP does not provide actual justification for these increases. The materials that were sent to customers lack transparency and do not provide details regarding how the increases would actually be used. Only general statements and tables showing the new rates are provided in order to prove that the rate increases are truly warranted.

After largely ignoring the looming catastrophic effects of climate change for more than 40 years, BWP is now mentioning climate change as part of its argument for big rate increases. The proposed increase in electric rates is 6% but there is no specific information as to how reliance on fossil fuels will be cut and the costs involved. Rooftop solar is discouraged and there is no mention of needed improvements such as installing underground power lines in areas that are subject to outages and fires caused by palm fronds.

BWP also wants to increase water rates by 9%, primarily for the replacement of water pipes and a wooden reservoir. Water is a critical issue in California now but there is no mention of the importance of conservation. BWP must become a real leader in the conservation of water.

There is also a 2% sewer charge increase and a 4% proposed increase for refuse collection due to “rising operational costs.” BWP has long relied on such tried-and-true phrases as “mitigate cost pressures” and “rising operational costs” to gain approval of its requested rate increases. That has to stop. How much of the rate increases would benefit the people and how much would primarily benefit BWP?

The City Council should require accountability on the part of BWP and should not approve the requested rate increases until BWP provides detailed facts regarding the rate increases and proposed expenditures.

Thomas Saito