With utility rates scheduled to increase in the fall, the City Council authorized a new Burbank Water and Power program giving electricity bill credits to low-income residents.
The program is expected to go into effect at the beginning of October, when the utility will raise its electricity and water rates; further increases are planned for early next year. Residents who meet income eligibility thresholds and have been financially impacted by COVID-19 will receive a one-time bill credit of $50.
Eligible residents whose accounts are in arrears — 91 days or more past due as of the program start date — and have owed more than $500 in their electric bills for that time period will receive a $300 bill credit. Furthermore, residents in this category who are elderly or have a permanent disability and are also in the BWP’s Lifeline program can receive up to $1,000 in assistance.
Despite concerns from residents and its own members regarding the timing, the Burbank City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to move toward increasing utility rates.
The water rate is set to increase by 1.96% in October, as well as in January and April next year. The electricity rate will increase by 1.24% in October 2021 and April 2022, while the refuse rate will increase by 2% in July 2021.
Burbank Water and Power is asking City Council approval to raise its utility rates starting this October to help pay for infrastructure costs.
The increases would be relatively minor for most residents, BWP officials told City Council members on Tuesday. The proposal includes a 1.24% electric rate bump in October and April estimated to total a higher monthly bill of $2.17 for single-family homes.
The utility also proposed a 1.96% water rate increase in October, January and April, reflecting a total estimated bump of $2.47 for small-family residences using 6,000 gallons of water per month, and a monthly uptick of $4.08 for medium-family residences using twice that amount.
BWP General Manager Dawn Lindell explained that the utility decided to phase in rate increases during the 2021-22 fiscal year because of the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if the City Council approves the rates in future fiscal years, prices will continue to increase by a projected 6% annually for water starting July 2022 and 2.8% annually for electricity starting the same month. Continue reading “BWP Proposes Water, Electric Rate Increases”
Following a unanimous vote this week, the Burbank City Council will consider regulating Mylar balloons, which utility representatives said are often the cause of brief power outages. Burbank Water and Power has a 99.99% reliability rate, meaning outages are fairly uncommon, BWP executive assistant Lyndsey Kramer said during the council’s Tuesday meeting. But when outages do occur, there’s a chance that they were caused by metallic Mylar balloons floating away and coming into contact with power lines. Since 2000, Mylar balloons have been the No. 1 cause of outages — 206 of them, accounting for 189 hours of service interruption. Between January 2016 and December 2020, Mylar balloons have been responsible for 36 “momentary outages” — more than any other cause — which last less than 60 seconds.
The city of Burbank’s “Plant for a Greener Burbank” initiative is a collaborative effort between Parks and Recreation, Burbank Water and Power, Community Development and Public Works to plant a minimum of 500 additional trees throughout the city in homes, businesses, streets and parks for the 2021 calendar year. With each tree planted, the city is improving the health and well-being of the neighborhoods and the overall Burbank community. Burbank residents and businesses are invited to join the campaign. Here’s how: • Free shade tree program from Burbank Water and Power customers can request free shade trees for their home or business. Residents can select up to three trees and Burbank businesses can select up to 20 trees. BWP is now taking reservations for the 2021 program year. • Community tree plantings at city parks with parks and recreation Grab a shovel and join the campaign in planting trees. Burbank Parks and Recreation is inviting households to participate in planting trees at city parks. Currently, tree plantings are limited to household members only and staff will ensure social distancing measures be in place. Join the volunteer list and look out for opportunities beginning in January 2021. For more information and to sign up for these opportunities, visit burbankca.gov/greenerburbank or call (818) 238-5314.
Starting in December, Burbank Water and Power could once again shut off power or issue late fees to medium and large businesses that are behind on their bills from the utility. BWP representatives told City Council members on Tuesday that residential and small commercial customers would continue to have late fees and shutoffs suspended. But having those options reinstated for other entities, representatives added, will help the BWP negotiate repayment schedules with such customers. According to a BWP official, the agency will begin notifying substantial commercial customers of the revised policy on Dec. 1. If a customer does not agree to a payment plan, the utility could cut off power less than four weeks later.
After being suspended for months due to an ongoing statewide stay-at-home order, local enforcement of street parking rules resumed Thursday, with a grace period of sorts. The Burbank City Council voted during its Tuesday meeting to reinstitute citations for street sweeping and overtime parking violations, agreeing with the Police Department’s recommendation. Warnings will be issued through Oct. 14, with citations being issued for violations starting on Oct. 15. Council members generally agreed with the BPD that reinstating parking enforcement was necessary to allow the Public Works Department to clean street gutter lines. With the rainy season possibly beginning in November, according to the BPD, debris and trash blocking the flow of stormwater could lead to flooding.
Burbank Water and Power will propose to the City Council a $1.5 million program that would help residents laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic pay their electric bills. The potential program suggests that the utility dedicate part of its public benefits fund to give electric bill credits to local residents who are on unemployment insurance. The council is expected to decide whether to OK the program and may give direction regarding some details, including the size of the credits, during its Tuesday meeting. The amount owed for city utility services recently has increased, according to a staff report the council is scheduled to review on Tuesday, jumping from just under $1 million overall to about $4.8 million. About 2,200 users have had past-due accounts for 91 days or more. “BWP really understands that people are making some really tough choices right now,” Joe Flores, marketing manager for the utility, said in a phone interview. “Especially if you’re not receiving any type of income and if you are on unemployment insurance, you have to make some pretty tough choices about what bills [you’re] able to pay.