Hefty water rate hike proposed for Los Osos, Edna Valley

For the second year in a row, Golden State Water Co. is proposing a hefty rate increase for its 3,300 customers in Los Osos and Edna Valley starting in 2013.

A smaller increase is proposed for customers the company serves in part of Nipomo.

The water purveyor has filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission to set new rates for 2013 through 2015. This follows a 27.2 percent rate increase approved last year by the CPUC for 2011 and 2012.

In Los Osos, the largest increase would occur in 2013, when a typical residential customer’s monthly bill would increase by $28.06 or 48.9 percent.

The increases in 2014 and 2015 would be much smaller and based on inflation, but numbers are not available, according to the company.

In Nipomo, which is part of the Santa Maria service area, a typical customer would see a jump of $6.33 or 14.5 percent per month in 2013. Smaller but unspecified increases would take place in 2014 and 2015.

In both cases, the increases are attributed to a variety of operating, maintenance and other expenses.

One big ticket item is a new well planned for the Edna Valley area that is estimated to cost $2 million, said Ken Petersen, Central Coast district manager. Other reasons include paying for recent capital improvements in Los Osos and lower water sales.

Some customers are upset by the proposed increase in Los Osos and are urging customers to send letters of protest to the CPUC.

The water rate increase would come at the same time Los Osos residents would be facing an estimated $200 monthly charge for the new Los Osos sewer system.

“Obviously, this is a rate increase that the already suffering people in Los Osos, as well as many in San Luis Obispo (Edna Valley) cannot afford,” Los Osos resident Bob Garner said.

Garner has set up a website, www.losososwater.com, where customers can get instructions about how to send protest letters.

An administrative law judge with the CPUC is scheduled to conduct hearings on the increases late this year or early next year.

The CPUC is expected to make a decision on Golden State’s rate increase request late in 2012.