California American Water is sending out a survey this week to its businesses and public agencies in Monterey County that will begin a new way of billing for those customers.
Last year, a group of local businesses, led by the Coalition of Peninsula Businesses, approached California American Water about changing the way it charges commercial customers. For years, businesses’ water bills were based on an individual allotment. The allotment was calculated on criteria involving the type of business, square footage, number of tables – if a restaurant, and other factors. If businesses exceeded their allotment they were charged higher rates in an effort to encourage water conservation.
“The problem with this system was that the allotments were based on average consumption for a particular business type,” said Bob McKenzie, a water issues consultant for the Coalition of Peninsula Businesses. “That means that if a business is doing very well it would be penalized.”
Together with the Coalition, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, California American Water has proposed a new non-residential billing system to the California Public Utilities Commission that does not depend on allotments. Instead, the water provider will determine whether or not a business is complying with best management practices in water conservation and base rates on that information.
“The idea,” said California American Water operations manager for the Coastal Division Eric Sabolsice, “is that if a business is doing all the right things to save water, they should be charged lower rates.”
In order to implement the new system, California American Water is sending a survey to all non-residential customers this week to determine which category of best management practice compliance each customer falls into.
“It is very important that customers fill out this survey and return it to us,” said Sabolsice. “If customers do not fill out the survey, they will be automatically placed in the highest category of rates – which is two and a half times the cost of the lowest category.”