GWP

Glendale Water & Power crews work in the 1200 block of Glenwood Road in 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / May 21, 2013)

Glendale will host a series of community meetings to discuss a schedule of electricity rate increases that city officials say are needed to pay for badly needed infrastructure upgrades and to improve the utility’s financial footing.

The meetings come nearly a year after city officials first proposed a 14.7% rate hike to be spread over four years, starting with a 3% bump in 2013. But that plan was put on hold as the election season heated up and public sentiment at a series of outreach meetings was less than supportive.

Since then, the proposal has been altered. 

While final details of the rate increase have yet to be hammered out, it will likely be more than what was presented last summer and probably will be stretched out over five years, rather than four, said Steve Zurn, general manager of the utility, after a City Hall meeting with Glendale Water & Power commissioners. 

In addition to helping pay for capital improvements, the rate hikes would improve Glendale Water & Power’s financial position, weakened in part by loans the electric side made to its water counterpart, which burned through tens of millions of dollars. 

Last year, the City Council approved four years of water rate increases. The increases will affect customers differently depending on how much water they use and the size of their meters. Another $35 million in water bonds and $24 million in electric revenue bonds were also approved.

Several bond ratings agencies have warned that without an electricity rate increase, the utility could face a downgrade. 

Also adding pressure are state mandates for securing renewable energy sources, which can be expensive, Zurn said. All California public utilities must get 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2013, and then 33% by 2020.

After the series of community meetings in June, the City Council is slated to review the proposal later this summer.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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 Planned Community Meetings [Note: This list was updated May 24, 2013.]

Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Dunsmore Park Community Room

4700 Dunsmore Ave., La Crescenta, 91214

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Thursday, June 6, 2013, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Sparr Heights Community Center

1613 Glencoe Way, Glendale, CA 91208