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Guest Opinion | Paul Little: I Am Shocked! Shocked!

Well, not really (HaHa)

Published on Monday, June 10, 2024 | 12:59 pm

None of us should be surprised that our utility costs are going up. We don’t have a lot of options but to pay.

The costs for water, sewer, solid waste and electric services are rising. Not at all unexpected. There are many factors that contribute to the increases: the cost the Metropolitan Water District charges Pasadena for water (more than half our water comes through MWD), the cost of electricity, and labor and material costs.

It remains to be seen how environmental stewardship impacts utility costs, but the fact remains we need to do something to address climate change if we want our great grandchildren to inhabit a livable world.

For Pasadena, aging infrastructure that demands upkeep or replacement is a huge contributor to price increases. Pasadena is (by California standards) a relatively old city. We also have our own utility company. The pipes that carry water, the wires that transmit electricity, the sewer lines are all aging. The City needs to do something. (We really do need to maintain the systems in operational condition or fix water lines, power transformers and the like when they fail? To my mind, cost and reliability dictate we keep the system operational and as up to date as possible. It is much more expensive to fix a failure somewhere in the system than to prevent it.)

We will all see added costs in our bills very soon. In a lot of cases, businesses will be hit harder (sometimes much harder) than residents.

The Pasadena City Council recently passed increases for water (about $14 per month per household on average or 13%). Sewer rates will double, on average after the Council approved an increase. (But, before you light your hair on fire, that would raise the cost from an average of $4.55 per month per household to $11.05. By comparison, Los Angeles currently charges $75 per household and will increase sewer rates to $92 in October and $155 in 2025.)

Commercial customers are also seeing increases, some significantly higher.

We cannot control the cost of water, power, sewer or trash, but we can take advantage of opportunities to save money and conserve (often FREE stuff!).

Such as:

A couple of years ago, I got two rainwater collection barrels for free from PWP. I got a third two years ago. The rain collected in those barrels waters my herb garden all summer and deep waters my trees every August/September. It is only a few hundred gallons each year, but it is something.

At our office, we were able to have LED lighting installed, again for FREE as part of WEDIP (Water and Energy Direct Install Program). Our old and inefficient fluorescent lights were taken out and replaced by efficient, more effective and easier on the eyes LED lights. All this cost the Pasadena Chamber nothing.

I honestly had heard about the program but never thought to take advantage until a PWP customer rep reminded me of the opportunity. A contractor came out and evaluated our property, made some suggestions and three weeks later we have new ceiling lights. If you have a business and would like to be evaluated for participation in the WEDIP program, visit and get evaluated and see if you qualify.

For residents, there are also a host of programs to help you make your home more energy and water efficient. The Home Improvement Program, for example, provides an expert evaluation and personalized installations to help households save water and power.

Business owners can also have input into our green energy future by taking a survey about small business awareness and needs. The survey is hosted by the Economic Development Department of the City of Pasadena. Take the 5 minute survey at:

Of course, the real irony is that the more we save on water and electricity (and gas for that matter) the more the commodity will cost us per unit. Those infrastructure costs (the wires, pipes, treatment plants and everything needed to maintain them) will not go away.

Paul Little is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association. He served on the Pasadena City Council representing District 2 from 1995 to 2007 and was on the Board of the LA to Pasadena Metro Construction Authority that built the (Blue, Gold, A) train to Pasadena. If he is not working, traveling, visiting his kids (and grandson), reading a mystery novel, newspaper or magazine on his porch, you can probably find him walking his big white dog Cotton around Pasadena.

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