California Submetering: Understanding Senate Bill 7

In a previous posting, we presented an overview of California submetering legislation, specifically, California Senate Bill 7. In this week’s installment, we will look at some important details of the legislation.

SB 7, which took effect on January 1, 2018, can be summarized as follows:

Intent

As stated in the bill, the intent of the legislation is twofold:

(a) To encourage the conservation of water in multifamily residential rental buildings through means either within the landlord's or the tenant's control.

(b) To establish that the practices involving the submetering of dwelling units for water service are just and reasonable and include appropriate safeguards for both tenants and landlords.

Weights & Measures

The legislation requires that all submeters installed in the state must first be shipped to the California Department of Weights and Measures for testing and approval. The company submitting meters for approval must also be a licensed agent of Weights & Measures. Guardian Water & Power's Weights & Measures service agency registration is #3707.

Technical Standards

The legislation “shall establish tolerances and specifications and other technical requirements for commercial … measuring” of water consumption in multifamily submetered properties.  The legislation also adopts the latest standards as recommended by the National Conference on Weights and Measures.

Utility Billing Standards

Billing standards enumerated in the legislation are comprehensive and exacting. These standards include the following:

a) At the beginning of a tenancy, a submeter shall be read after the tenant takes possession.  If the regular reading occurs less than five days prior to the tenant taking possession, that reading may be substituted to establish usage.  If the submeter is manually read, the first bill may be estimated based on the rate established in subdivision (b) of Section 1954.212 .