Sub-meter bill hits snag; CAA remains opposed

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Senate Bill 750 — sponsored by tenant and environmental lobbies to mandate sub-meters in new construction and establish consumer protections in affected properties — remains pending in an Assembly committee.

Although SB 750 is close to accommodating all parties, a number of the bill’s provisions remain problematic, and CAA remains in opposition to the legislation.

As originally drafted, SB 750 by Sen. Lois Wolk prohibited RUBS, banned administrative fees for water sub-meters and required that, as of Jan. 1, 2014, all new multifamily construction units would be sub-metered.

The California Apartment Association and the Utility Conservation Coalition, an alliance of utility billing companies, have been diligently working to address the negative aspects of the bill and to create a “win-win” situation for owners, residents, and the environmental lobby.

To date, at CAA’s request, the bill has been amended to statutorily affirm the use of RUBS (the allocation of utility services when no meter exists), to clarify the ability of an owner to charge administrative fees for water sub-metering, and to extend the date for the new construction mandate to January 2015. CAA continues to advocate for movement of the mandate to 2016.

Although SB 750 is close to accommodating all parties, a number of the bill’s provisions remain problematic, and CAA remains in opposition to the legislation.

During SB 750’s Assembly Committee hearing Tuesday, Aug. 13, CAA representatives expressed strong concerns over the unreasonable penalty provisions related to disclosure and billing errors, as well as the bill’s failure to incorporate amendments extending the effective date if not enough sub-meters are approved for use in California by 2015.

Although the California Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee held Senate Bill 750, the committee chairman granted Sen. Wolk “reconsideration,” allowing her to bring back the bill after addressing industry opposition.

CAA and the Utility Conservation Coalition are hopeful that Sen. Wolk and the tenant and environmental lobbies will concur with industry amendments, resulting in a “win- win” measure. As negotiations continue, we will continue to keep you informed on changes to SB 750.

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