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Utility rates set to rise in Burbank

Costs of wholesale water, renewable energy, to blame, officials say.

May 10, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Burbank utility customers are in for another round of bill hikes this July, with electric and water rates slated to jump 1.75% and 4.75%, respectively, officials said.

State mandates to increase renewable energy use, which is more costly, are driving the electric bill hikes, said Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power.

For ratepayers, that means a 550 kilowatt-hour monthly electric bill would go up $1.53 to $90.24 as the utility continues to wean its dependence on coal and beef up its renewable energy profile.

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"The stuff we're decreasing costs a nickel, and the stuff we're increasing costs a dime," Davis said. "We can minimize it, we can offset it, but it won't hide."

Projections show coal will supply 29% of the city's energy this coming fiscal year, compared to 45% 10 years ago.

Davis attributed the planned water rate hikes to the fact that Burbank itself faced a 5% hike from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — which provides the city with much of its water — in January. Another 5% hike is scheduled for early next year.

That means the bill for a household using 15,000 gallons of water per month — enough to accommodate a large single-family home "with a pool and gardens," much more than the average household — would jump $2.90 from $64.35, Davis said.

Even so, Burbank's $67.25-per-15,000-gallon rate is among the lowest in the area. Glendale's projected rate for the same amount of water this coming fiscal year is $80.57, while Pasadena's is $74.17, according to a city report.

Additionally, Burbank has kept up with infrastructure maintenance, which saves on costs in the long run, Davis said.

"We build pipe and power lines every day," Davis said. "Burbank has long-standing program to continually maintain and replace infrastructure in a way that minimizes long-term costs."

Sewer and refuse rates are also slated to each jump 2%, officials said.

Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford attributed the hike to ongoing maintenance costs and the rising cost of fuel, which makes trash-hauling services more costly.

The City Council must still approve the budget proposals, for which a public hearing is scheduled on June 4.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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