Rishi Kumar was very concerned to find San Jose Water Company’s (SJWC) profit balloon in a drought year, from a baseline of $22M to $52M - see the table below - based on surcharges, while citizens conserved water. The water bills had skyrocketed. Later, Rishi’s frustration grew when San Jose Water filed for another surcharge due to “undercollection” as their customers had conserved water in a drought. Many such citizen complaints turned Rishi into a water activist. So far, Rishi has led efforts to either reject, reduce or suspend 9 San Jose Water rate increase proposals.
Rishi Kumar has challenged a profitable-powerful San Jose Water Company with their many water rate increase proposals. He is the only elected leader from 6 Silicon Valley cities leading charge since 2016; so far, 9 water rates have been pushed back successfully for a million residents.
Rishi’s engagement with SJWC’s water rate hike issue began in August 2016 with hosting a community meeting between citizens, San Jose Water Company and Santa Clara Valley Water District, when a spike in water bill was first observed. Rishi’s modus operandi to push back SJWC’s rate increases was soon established; file protests directed at the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) - the decision making authority - for every rate increase proposal that was presented. A water information page (www.RishiKumar.com/water) was established for this explicit purpose. A simple protest framework had been established - a winning formula - that was replicated again and again, A mobile app was rolled out in the Apple and Android platform to make protests easier, sending thousands of protest letters to CPUC and Office of Rate Payers Advocate (ORA). Here is the story so far.
With the growing population of Silicon Valley, availability of water has become a source of concern. Communities of Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, Campbell and San Jose are experiencing significant angst due to the increasing water bills first created during the drought years (2013-2016) with surcharges (penalties) in place. Below are the mechanics of the push back against San Jose Water Company's rate increases that Rishi has led, collaborating with some of the other elected leaders. For the news coverage, click here.
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