This year, beginning July 1, 2023, BWP is proposing an electric system average rate increase of 8.5%, and a water system average rate increase of 9%. Next year, on July 1, 2024, the proposed rate increases are 8% for electricity and 9% for water. We understand this is potentially a large increase and appreciate the opportunity to explain the cost drivers to our community owners. Additionally, we offer bill management assistance programs to people who cannot afford this increase.
Why are we seeing a cost increase?
Over the last three years, the world has seen unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts on the supply chain have driven up utility costs to previously unimaginable amounts, significantly above typical U.S. inflation. Locally, these increases impact the products we use to keep the water and power flowing to our community. The table below is a snapshot of the prices we are seeing on materials and goods, as was presented at our BWP Board Meeting on March 2, 2023. There are also impacts to substation rebuilds, up 67%; ductile iron pipe, up 75%; among many others.
To help offset the increases, BWP staff has aggressively looked for opportunities to cut or reduce costs, which has saved approximately $21 million in the last 12 months. In addition, BWP brings in external dollars like the $1.7M in CA utility assistance for our customers, to help with their unpaid utility bills. We are also aggressively pursuing funding from the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill and other sources that will help in many areas across the utility.
The cost increase of materials and goods is one of many issues we manage on behalf of the community to keep rates affordable. As part of our commitment to transparency, we will continue to share the issues impacting our utility, like the recent article by our Assistant General Manager of Water, Richard Wilson, explaining how all the rains impact Burbank’s water supply or my prior article on how we will use the electric bond monies for infrastructure, sustainability, and disaster resilience.
Programs that help customers with bill increases
As your community-owned utility, impacts on our customers are top of mind. We consider affordability in everything we do and focus on continuous improvement efforts to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. BWP also has a suite of programs to help all customers, regardless of income level.
BWP strives to provide transparency in our budget proposals and manage the impact of rate increases on our most vulnerable customers. We will continue to do so at the April 6, 2023, BWP Board Meeting, the May 9, 2023 City Council meeting, and the June 6, 2023 public hearing on rate increases.