Drought, maintenance costs raise Palo Alto's utilities rates | June 17, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 17, 2022

Drought, maintenance costs raise Palo Alto's utilities rates

Water rates set to jump by 8.9%, while gas and electric rates face smaller increases

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto residents will see their utilities rates go up this summer due to a combination of rising water prices, dry hydroelectric conditions and a pandemic-driven drop in gas consumption, according to Palo Alto Utilities staff.

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Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2022 at 10:27 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Here we go again! We use less and get charged more as a consequence!

Unbelievable. Actually no, in Palo Alto it is perfectly believable.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2022 at 10:50 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The drought also has contributed to the higher rate. With customers cutting back on water, the water utility loses some of its revenue it gets from ratepayers. But because much of the system's costs are fixed, it needs to recoup the money by raising rates."

Same old, same old "reasoning" -- Conserve, conserve, Oops. Sorry. You conserved too much forcing us to keep raising your rates.

And remember to approve our proposed Utility Transfer tax legitimizing our longstanding practice of "overcharging CPAU customers $20,000,000 annually transferring money from your pocket to the General Fund so we can continue to appeal the court-ordered settlement in the Miriam Green lawsuit against this practice.

Posted by Len Ely
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2022 at 11:18 am

Len Ely is a registered user.

Is the City going to increase what they pay me for my excess solar also?

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2022 at 11:56 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Is anyone here looking at the global picture? I don't know how the next generation will be able to forgive those who did not conserve. Our kids and grandkids see the choices we make, and they will remember that we prioritized convenience and soft savings over reducing GHG emissions to avert climate change and conserving fresh water. The associated societal disruptions are just now beginning to accumulate significantly.

It is time for our generation, ALL of us to take responsibility for our choices, to conserve for our kids. I'm a senior and gladly pay more for gas and water in a moment of crisis. I am driving less, using less fresh water, and the inconveniences are very limited. It is so worth it to pass forward a planet that our beloved children and grandchildren can live on.

I'm sorry this costs money, but it does. Adults accept the uncomfortable facts and take care of their families by making choices that serve us all. I don't want my legacy to be one of self-serving indulgence that sacrifices my children's and grandchildren's future.

Posted by sabra chartrand
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2022 at 4:15 pm

sabra chartrand is a registered user.

Re Consider Your Options: The article states that water rates are increasing in part because people are conserving. Which is ironic. In addition, it's a bit presumptuous to say people only worry about their bills out of "convenience and soft savings." I pay a lot of different costs for myself & 2 children. I pay attention to prices. It all adds up. I'm sure I'm not alone. It's great that you (and others) can "gladly pay more." But that doesn't mean we shouldn't question increases, or that everyone can easily or happily handle them.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2022 at 5:59 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

How ironic - we have a story line going on about the city pushing excess payments on utilities into the general fund and a desire to formalize that situation via a vote. That strategy is on squeky legal grounds.

Now we have a story on the utility fees we pay are going to go up. Two issues on the table which are in conflict with each other.

I think we need a formal report on the status of the utility system as to it's current functionality and any repairs needed to respond to the current growth in the city.

I believe that the over payments we have been making are meeting the needs of what would be a business tax. Time to analyze the business tax - what is it suppose to be paying for. Then analyze what overpayments have been made in the past to cover those charges.

This is like income sources that are being apprehended on the one side and not addressed correctly on the other side. We need a business tax with clear definition as to what it is suppose to be addressing. And further clarification on the utility system and it's real cost at this time.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:06 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Now we have a story on the utility fees we pay are going to go up. Two issues on the table which are in conflict with each other."

Not if you can grab with both hands -- which this sure sounds like.

I've heard the "utility transfers" justified as akin toP G&E's rate of return whicxh gets paid out to shareholders as dividends. Ok. But not being the City or city staff or a city consultant, I fail to see how that helps CPAU customers since we don't get dividends or rate cuts; we only get "overcharges" that get siphoned from us into the General Fund.

Now if he city cut our rates and/or paid US dividends, it might be worth discussing. But instead they raise our rates AND want the "transfers" to continue forever.

Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2022 at 8:29 am

Palo Alto native is a registered user.

Thank you Miriam Green. The main reasons for having the City run it’s own utility is to have LOW utility rates, that means the citizens should NOT allow the City to siphon off 20,000,000 to pay for excessive spending that the CC deems “in the city interest”. There are many areas that the City overspends. Personally I am not in favor of spending taxpayer monies to fund BMR housing. The City does not have millions of dollars to fund some citizens’ desires. CC and leaders start budgeting with the revenue you have, not the 20 mill from our excess utility payments that Miriam Green shed light on!

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 21, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I recall reading about state of Hawaii having a lot of solar installed in recent years - great.
Utility objected (!) and wanted to raise fees, rates, obstacles.
- Why!?
They didn’t want to reduce their bureaucracy and/or lay off ANY workers (fewer needed after so much solar installed, increased energy independence)
And solar makes sense in Hawaii!
Wow, ya can’t win (the resident and business in Hawaii)….
Only government/utility bureaucracy wins.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 21, 2022 at 7:08 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Just say no to the Utility Transfer Tax and tell them to pay us interest retroactively on the settlement they owe us which they've delayed paying us for years. Extra credit if they refund the cost of the outside law firm the city's paying to appeal paying us.

Also, note that if you want to object to a rate increase the city has set such a high bar that it's impossible for a few people to make a dent since 12,500 people have to object in EXACTLY the right format.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2022 at 8:32 am

Annette is a registered user.

Past City Councils really, badly teed us up for some very lean years, service-wise. They avoided enacting a business tax, they hired at least two if not three city managers who promote(d) the interests of businesses at the expense of residents, they approved a level of commercial development that produced housing demand that Palo Alto cannot possibly meet, they did not require the commercial development to mitigate its housing impact, and they endorsed the illegal utility transfer tax and relied on it for essential services. We are going to have to bite the bullet at some point and the longer we put that off, the worse the bite will be. Putting the utility tax on the ballot and increasing rates is an attempt to make rate payers cover the cost of the lawsuit and avoid what should be a reduction (via the reimbursement). And the business tax, if on the ballot as a general tax, provides no guarantee for the funding of essential public safety services or housing. Absent that guarantee, approving the business tax is akin to approving poor management. At the very least there needs to be an examination of other sources of revenue. Or a strong campaign for a specific, binding business tax.

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