View Mobile Site

Catalina Island fighting proposed water rate hike

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED July 15, 2012 7:32 p.m.

AVALON  (AP) — Residents and business owners of Santa Catalina Island have formed a coalition to fight against a proposal to dramatically raise their water rates.

If state regulators approve the proposal by Southern California Edison to increase water rates by 83 percent, the utility's 1,900 customers on the island could pay roughly nine times more than what those in Los Angeles pay. Edison said the rate hike was necessary to recover $19 million spent to improve its aging facility on the 75-square-mile island.

The islanders, already frustrated that Edison had raised their water rates by 300 percent over the last five years, said the additional increases would hurt a local economy that has seen a steady decline of visitors.

"Sky-high utility costs will only make it harder to do business" in the harbor town of Avalon, where rates would be passed on to residents and tourists, said Wayne Griffin, executive director of the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce.

Edison, which acquired the island's water, gas and electric utility in 1962, said maintaining the water system has been costly. Because the island has very little water, Edison must rely on the costly process of desalinating ocean water, the utility's vice president of operations told the Los Angeles Times.

"We barge materials to the island. We've made seismic improvements at dams and reservoirs, replaced a pump house, repaired infrastructure damaged by fire and installed automated systems — all this, for 2,000 customers," Akbar Jazayeri said.

Edison is proposing an alternative plan before the California Public Utilities Commission that would shift about $8 million of the increased costs to its 4.8 million electric ratepayers on the mainland.

The compromise would result in no increase in island water rates.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...