Southern California Edison is proposing that the state government allow the electric company to bill its electricity customers for the cost of providing fresh water to Avalon.
The electricity utility company owns the drinking water facility on Catalina Island. Southern California Edison has about 5 million electricity customers. Avalon has a population of about 3,700 people.
A decision on the water rate case is expected in 2022. Public utility “rate cases” (increases) take a long time to work through the state process.
The amount of money Edison seeks is large. The population of Avalon is small. The proposal, one of two from SCE, requires the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.
“If SCE’s proposal is not approved, an alternative would be to recover all costs in rates from Catalina water customers,” according to Robert Laffoon-Villegas, of Edison’s Corporate Communications
Edison wants to recover $9.3 million a year, plus $29 million in one-time expenses, to provide water to Catalina customers, most of them in Avalon, as recently reported by the Catalina Islander (a sister newspaper of the Sun).
The PUC held two online forums on the issue Tuesday, March 30. No action was taken.
Public reaction to the proposal was largely negative, based on a casual reading of the 280 pages of public comments that were posted online during the two meetings.
Some mainland customers opposed the rate increase entirely; others believed Island residents alone should pay the cost of operating the water utility.
During the afternoon hearing, a representative of The Utility Reform Network apparently suggested adding a fee to passengers traveling to the Island as an alternative.
“There would be so many families impacted by this decision. Not only on the island but also off of the island. Please realize that the average household income is only $61,655 on the island,” wrote Rebecca Roosevelt-Parrott of Newport Coast.
The current PUC rate case number is A.20-10-018.
The PUC is still taking comments from the public on this case. Visit https://apps.cpuc.ca.gov/apex/f?p=401:65:0::NO:RP,57,RIR:P5_PROCEEDING_SELECT:A2010018.