GWP rate hike meeting gets quiet response

The third public outreach meeting announcing a series of electrical rate increases Monday night was far less dramatic than a previous gathering, though residents peppered officials with questions about the proposal.

Officials are proposing hiking the base electricity rates by 3% in 2013 and 2014, and then 4% in 2015 and 2016, saying they're needed for Glendale Water & Power to pay for badly needed capital improvement projects and other expenses. City Hall critics, meanwhile, have continued to bash a $21-million transfer from the utility to the city's coffers, claiming they artificially boost the need for the rate increases.

But unlike a previous outreach meeting, there were no shouting matches Monday at the Sparr Heights Community Center.

Glendale Water & Power plans to transfer $21 million this year to the city's General Fund to pay for public services such as libraries and parks. The practice has been in place for decades, but as other revenue sources have dried up in recent years, the amount transferred has increased.

For multifamily and single-family residences, the increased rates may boost their respective $51.50 and $103.17 monthly charges by about $1 to $3 over the next four years.

Likewise, a small mom-and-pop grocery store may see its $319.67 monthly charge increase roughly $6 to $10 over the next four years. A high-rise building or hospital, meanwhile, may see its $14,462 monthly charge increase by roughly $308 to $416 over the same period.

Glendale customers are billed every other month.

After raising the rates, residential and commercial customers in Glendale will see a bill that's slightly higher than those in Los Angeles, but lower than those in Burbank.

With the proposed rates, the utility's electrical revenue is expected to increase between $3.2 million and $5.9 million through fiscal year 2016, said Eric Campbell, the utility's new finance administrator.

But that won't cover roughly $88 million in critical capital projects planned for the next five years. In addition to the rate proposal, officials plan to ask permission to issue $60 million in bonds to cover much of the gap. The City Council must sign off on both proposals.

Officials expect to spend about $20 million on capital projects next year. Improvements include updating the Grayson Power Plant and the city's energy distribution system. Currently, capital improvements are on hold.

Electricity rates increased an average of 11.7% in 2006 and 5.1% in 2007, but they haven't been raised since then.

Despite that, several people at the meeting said they were unhappy about the latest proposal.

“I'm sick and tired of any type of rate increase, whether water or electric,” said resident Ruby Sulayan.

The last outreach meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 18 at Clark Magnet High School, 4747 New York Ave.


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