Utility district approves metered rate | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Utility district approves metered rate

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – South Tahoe Public Utility District directors unanimously approved a rate structure for customers with water meters at a special meeting Tuesday.

Forty-five percent of metered customers’ water bills will be based on consumption under Tuesday’s decision.

During meetings earlier this month, metered customers lobbied for a smaller portion of their bills to be based on water use, fearing large spikes in water bills would follow summer landscaping.

Directors were presented with two other options for the metered rate last week, but neither gained support.

Both options would have decreased the emphasis on water conservation. One of the options would have created an one quarter loss of about $175,000 for the district, according to district data.

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The water rate structure passed Tuesday is designed to be “budget neutral” and keep the bills for non-metered customers and the average metered customer the same. About 25 percent of public utility district customers are being billed based on water use or in the process of switching to a metered rate.

The utility district expects to modify the rate for metered customers as it gathers more information on how much water the average customer uses. Some metered customers have raised a concern that the average water use calculated by the district is too low.

Directors have also told staff to develop conservation programs to help metered customers and Angora fire victims, several who have commented on the large amount of water needed for new landscaping to survive in soil damaged by the blaze.

Following a suggestion by Director Eric Schafer, the board is expected to discuss a one or two percent increase in water rates for non-metered customers in coming weeks.

Schafer suggested discussing the possible water rate hikes as a way to get ahead of future rate increases, which are expected to be in the area of five percent during the next five years.

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