Rishi Kumar asks for Governor Newsom’s intervention on water rates


SARATOGA: – Democratic Candidate for United States Congress from California’s District 18, Rishi Kumar,* has contacted California Governor Newsom’s office requesting a meeting to discuss the recent San Jose Water Company’s (SJWC) 21.47% increase in the cost of service charge as part of their General Rate Case filing for 2022-2024.

Kumar stated, “San Jose Water Company’s profits have skyrocketed. The ratepayers are feeling the burden of water rates 2 or 3 times higher compared to other utility companies. The recent cost of service proposal is drastic and unacceptable, especially given the economic pressures of the pandemic. The ratepayers are furious! The emails I have received express despair, an inability to put food on the table, and anguish over such an extraordinary water rate increase.”

Kumar has been the water activist rallying the community since August 2016 in pushing back SJWC’s frequent rate increase filings, with the support of many regionally elected leaders. He has been a passionate advocate at many city council and neighborhood meetings discussing the unfair practices of San Jose Water Company while inviting action from elected leaders and ratepayers. Rishi spoke at the recent West Valley Mayors and Managers meeting inviting the affected cities to form a joint coalition.

Rishi’s efforts have resulted in eight different rejections, reductions, or suspensions against the San Jose Water Company’s rate increase proposals. About a million people have benefited. Rishi has spoken up firmly at prior CPUC hearings on this topic. To raise concern for this important issue, Rishi established a water information page and runs the Water Oversight Group, a citizens group that is actively pushing back these water rates via a simple protest framework – a winning formula – that has been replicated again and again successfully. A mobile app was rolled out to make protests easier, sending thousands of protest emails to CPUC and Office of Ratepayers Advocate (ORA). Rishi has also called for the replacement of SJWC with a municipal water utility company, and, as of this press release, over 5,000 have signed the water petition.

Kumar said, “I invite the ratepayers of SJWC to send their protest emails to CPUC. In 10 years, SJWC’s net income after taxes is a total of $342M. I call upon CPUC to analyze how this money has been utilized for infrastructure improvement, water quality requirements, and to address cybersecurity/data privacy projects. Why has the operational expense related to staffing increased during this pandemic? What is the undercollection of revenue that SJWC seeks to address? We need a thorough analysis of San Jose Water’s financial filings.”