Public can comment on planned water hike for Los Osos and Edna Valley

The public will have an opportunity Friday to talk to the state Public Utilities Commission about plans by Golden State Water Co. to raise its rates by nearly 50 percent in Los Osos and the Edna Valley.

Public participation hearings will be held at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday at the South Bay Community Center, 2180 Palisades Ave. in Los Osos. It is one of eight hearings the commission is holding throughout the state.

The private water company has proposed raising rates for its 3,300 customers in Los Osos and the Edna Valley by 48.9 percent in 2013. A smaller increase is planned for customers in the Nipomo area.

The utilities commission must approve the increase and has assigned an administrative law judge to hear the case. The company says the increase is needed to pay for infrastructure improvements, including a new well in the Edna Valley, and promote the efficient use of water.

Los Osos resident Bob Garner, who opposes the rate increase, said the public is encouraged to participate in the hearings.

“This is a rare opportunity to actually speak to the deciding judge and tell him how you feel about the issue,” he said.

The rate increase would be the second in two years. Last year, the commission approved a 27.2 percent increase for 2011 and 2012.