Saw this response letter to BBW‘s form letter that was sent.
Seems worth sharing here: Credit to Molly Crower Sullivan who wrote the response to BBW
This is my response to BBWC’s response. The BBWC text appears within quote marks.
P.O. Box 197
Boulder Creek CA 95006
“In response to your protest or conditional support for the rate increase that Big
Basin Water Co is asking for.
Depending on the amount of the rate increase that the CPUC approves we will pay down debt from Covid 19 restrictions that said we couldn't shut off customers for nonpayment. Which meant a decrease in revenue coming in to pay our bills.”
BBWC is claiming they lost revenue during Covid 19 because customers didn’t pay their water bill. Don’t know if this is true but it could be.
From BBWC financial statements, metered water revenue for residential, single family and multiple dwelling units show the following:
A increase of $1,253
A decrease of $74,832
A decrease of $72,484
Another contributing factor could be the destruction of 130 homes in the CZU fire that were connected to their water system. Since the homes were destroyed, they wouldn’t be paying BBWC any longer.
“On top of that the fire destroyed our filter plant and office.”
Not sure of the relevancy of this statement. BBWC has no plans to rebuild their filter plant, and it is unknown if they have plans to rebuild their office, but since they are in the process of selling the company, I doubt it. In other words, the revenue generated from any rate increase will not be invested in rebuilding their filter plant or their office, so BBWC’s statement serves no purpose other than for sympathy sake.
“That is when we started applying for Grants to dig another well. The grant process is slow.”
Assuming they started applying for grants in January of 2021, it has been two years and no status on grants was provided in their response. Telling us it is a slow process is not helpful; giving us a status after two years would be helpful to understanding if any grants have been received and if more are coming around the corner.
“We don't qualify for FEMA funds because we are a private water company.”
This is an excellent point why BBWC should not be selling their company to another private company. The new private company won’t have access to FEMA funds either.
“The State, Federal and County have left us on our own to recover.”
This is because BBWC is a private company. Government entities will not fund private companies. Government entities won’t be funding the new private company either. Another excellent point why BBWC should not be selling their company to another private company.
“We repaired and fixed what we could with insurance money. As well as day to day operations.”
It is very clear that BBWC was underinsured before the fire. They did not have enough insurance coverage to rebuild all that needed to be rebuilt. That was a management mistake.
“In the form letter that most of you sent to protest the increase states you want us to have a Receivership. Receivership will cost you a lot of money (lawyers wages are very high) All a Receiver will do is to try and get us to merge with SLV. SLV rates are already higher.”
A receivership is expensive, but unfortunately is necessary when a water company that has been out of compliance with state standards for years and continuous fines don’t resolve the problems. A receiver will do more than just try to get BBWC to merge with SLVWD, but even if that is all a receiver did, the customers would be in a far better position if there was a merger. SLVWD is a public non-profit company and therefore can obtain government funds which are vital to get our water system fixed without having the 547 customers pay $10,000,000 to $40,000,000 out of their pockets. SLVWD rates are higher but the organization has stability and can deliver water to us reliably. They have many employees and equipment that BBWC does not. Because of that, the rates are higher.
“We have a buyer that is committed to improving our infrastructure.”
Unfortunately, the buyer will want to be reimbursed for those improvements from the customers.
“We believe this is the best route to take for Big Basin Water.”
That is the best route for BBWC; unfortunately, it is not the best route for the customers.
“Our priority expenses will be Hillhouse, Everest infrastructure replacement and a continued rental or permanent generator for the well. Staffing will be addressed as soon as possible thereafter. After these issues are taken care of, we will reassess priorities and address those in a timely manner.”
Since we have no detailed plans on how rate increase money will be spent, it seems likely based on the above statement that very little might be left over or none for additional personnel in the field.