Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto Utilities Staff Recommends Large Rate Increases

Original post made by Patrick Butler, University South, on Feb 24, 2023

I just received the agenda for the next Palo Alto Utilities Advisory Commission with a numbing 340 page plus of agenda, charts and attachments from the Palo Alto Utilities staff. Keep your hand on your wallet when you send that long of an agenda for one evening meeting.

After giving the documents a quick read, it looks like they want significant raises to all Palo Alto residential and commercial utilities rates starting on July 1, 2023 and additional raises for some utilities continuing for 4-5 years. Here are the residential rate proposals:

Sewage- 9% per year for each of the next five years.

Water rates- 3% increase

Gas- Transfer 18% of yearly gas revenues to the general fund for the fiscal years 2021 to 2024.

Increase the gas cost rates for tier one and two by 21.4%
Increase gas distribution rates by 8%, 7%, 5%, 5%, 5% for the fiscal years 2024-2028.

Electric- (Here is the one bone, or, I should say, one half of a bone) The recent Hydroelectric rate surcharge decreased by 50% on July 1, 2023.

However, all residential electric rates increased by 14% effective July 1, 2023.

Palo Alto Utilities are the gift that keeps giving to the folks who run our small city.

Patrick Butler
University South

Comments (7)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2023 at 5:48 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Our utility rate increased by 25% from the normal amount in January and was double the December bill in February.

Now they want even more. We do not have bottomless pockets. We have to live within a budget which is obviously something that our utilities don't understand. I met with one senior earlier this week and she was in tears about her bill and can't see how to pay without having to cut down on basics.

This has to stop.

Posted by Moctod
a resident of University South
on Feb 24, 2023 at 7:57 pm

Moctod is a registered user.


Thank you for your comments. The next meeting of the Palo Alto Utilities Commission is on March 1, 2023.

Here is the link to the proposals and the almost endless PowerPoints.

Web Link

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 25, 2023 at 8:54 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Patrick Butler, great reporting. Thanks for taking the trouble to do the hard work.

How much greed is enough from CPAU? Isn't more than $1,000+++ a month enough??

And isn't it great how they keep creating monthly fees like gas DISTRIBUTION fees, water CONNECTION fees etc. I once added up all the fees, surcharges, taxes ($50 monthly utility user tax) etc. and they came to more than 1/3 of the bill or $1,000+ a year!

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 27, 2023 at 4:30 pm

Annette is a registered user.

It's pretty clear that optics are not a great concern for those who run this city. A few weeks ago, the city's Chief Communication Officer suggested that people suffering from the cold could go to a city library to get warm. I guess she isn't clued into the library schedules or how difficult it is for some people to even get to a library (especially late in the day). And now, when people are reeling from the enormous hike in their utility bills, the UAC is suggesting rate increases for sewer, water, natural gas and electricity. And this follows some very negative press about the gas utility transfer and the business tax. And then there are all the fees that Online Name detailed. People expect to pay for what they use; they do not expect to be gouged. Explain the fees, explain the rates in uncomplicated terms, explain the status of the budget honestly, and lay out what is necessary and why. We can then all make informed decisions about how we use our utilities.

I'd do this before approving any rate hikes b/c as of now there is a serious trust deficit.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2023 at 5:00 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

We vote for a few people to sit around and play with our wallets without realizing that only a few of the elite in our 60k population can afford to pay the fees. What's wrong with this picture? Well, we have a city manager who scrapes his pay right off the top, half a million bucks a year (and counting, since new Transparent California pay figures haven't been updated yet). Then the attorney who scrapes off nearly that much, and in the number 5 spot a little lower is the Director of Utilities at $457,631.76. Below him is the Utilities Compliance Manager, at $424,822.57. Assistant Director under them, at $391,404.48. Then ANOTHER Assistant Utilities wonk at $384,299.68. With their salaries alone, the city could afford NOT to raise utilities out of reach for many elderly and disabled and disadvantaged residents.

Where are the top tier of paid city employees, who are supposed to be representing our best interests? I don't know where they ARE, but I'll tell you where they aren't. They aren't on the ballots we fill out.

Income disparity is hitting PA with gale force winds. And fueled by people who we don't have the power to oust. Follow the money.

And those are just 2021 figures, BEFORE they gave themselves raises.

Web Link Transparent California Salaries, right there in the wide open spaces where it doesn't matter if they don't update this year or not. 2021 figures are out there so we can see where much of our utilities money is going ... right into the pockets of people who are being paid to stay at home and phone in their recommendations. If you have to create over 300 pages of nonsense agenda to pull off a disappearing act (of taxpayers money) the diversion is obvious to anyone. If you give the public too much to digest you can just roll right over them.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 27, 2023 at 6:18 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Annette, thanks for your comments on all the fees. They really need to be reviewed in light of the fact that the rate hikes are USUALLY justified because of the increased costs for USING water, electricity etc but just today it made front page news that "Water rates would go up 7% becausee the city SOLD LESS water during the drought..."

That's not before one considers all the marketing expenses telling us to use LESS water so we'd save money.

The city isn't or shouldn't be in the "marketing business" making a profit off us. As Vice Mayor Stone reminded Mayor Burt when he tried to justify spending $144,000.000 on the risky fiber plan BECAUSE the city profited off of airport and utility "customers" that those services are monopolies and we're captive users which would NOT be the case with fiber which is already being offered by big established players.

We really need to review the whole CPAU "business" and how it "prices" its products and services. A real "market research survey" aka a VOTE needs to happen before the forced conversion to all electric happens and whether a reliable electrical grid is perfereable to virtue-signalling and bragging rights to being Oh-So-Green when the only thing that IS green is the money flying out of our pockets while we freeze in the cold and dark while our food spoils and we can't drive out e-cars to get warm and/or go to a restaurant.

Huge rate increases PLUS the perpetual right to "overcharge" us 20% in Transfer Taxes" may not not be such a popular "priority" and won't help is achieve "Mental Health" -- our other "priority"!

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2023 at 5:03 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

CPAU is just a utilities broker. Think of all of the fees for everything but the power itself as brokerage fees. And then count how much of those fees go into the pockets of the people who designed and oversee and manipulate the system to their advantage. The power isn't costing more. The broker is charging more for "delivering" it to the consumers. And they don't give a rat's aspirin about outages. Or, think of them as Lyft or Uber or Door Dash drivers. We are overtipping for crappy service.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Los Altos restaurant and lounge closes just months after opening
By The Peninsula Foodist | 6 comments | 7,274 views

Bike lanes don’t belong on El Camino!
By Diana Diamond | 26 comments | 5,817 views

Farm Bill and the Future – Final Post (part 10)
By Laura Stec | 12 comments | 2,174 views

It’s ‘International Being You’ Day
By Chandrama Anderson | 20 comments | 2,118 views

How quickly will we electrify our homes?
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 730 views