SAN DIMAS While many Barstow residents are striving to pay their increased water bills, Golden State Water Company's parent company reported profits of $15.6 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30.

American States Water Company reported that this year's third quarter earnings were better than last year's, which were $6.7 million.

So far this year the company has earned $39.1 million in profit more than last year's $24.1 million for the same time period.

When Lisa Panida, an organizer of the local Concerned Citizens group, first learned of the company's increased profits, she said the first things that came to her mind were words that couldn't be printed.

"It's nice that they're getting all that money and they're breaking the backs of all those people," Panida said.

The Concerned Citizens rose up from a group of Barstow residents upset with their significantly higher bills. The group is a grassroots effort to fight the dramatic increase in water bills, some paying as much as $1,000 per two-month billing cycle for their water bills.

"It's wrong when you're making so much money and people can't pay their bills," Panida said.

The Concerned Citizens has had many meetings encouraging others to rally for answers from the company and the Public Utilities Commission.

"We have problems with the PUC continuing to give raises to Golden State Water Company, but the raises are out of reach of the ratepayers," Panida said. "We can't pay it. But they keep snapping them out."

When asked to comment on the company's large earnings, Golden State District Manager Perry Dahlstrom explained that Golden State only contributed in part to American State's income. The profit, he said, is also contributed to by Big Bear Electric Service, and the completed sale of Chaparral City Water Company.

Dahlstrom also said when considering the difference between last year's earning and this year's earnings one must look at the fact that 2010 earnings were "particularly low" due to a delay in a regulatory decision.

The company's earnings became a source of conflict at Golden State's community meeting earlier this month.

At the meeting Panida accused Golden State of caring more for investors than their customers. She referenced the company's investor reports, explaining that the company tells investors it works with the PUC to ensure they make a profit, though they encourage conservation.

"When you put us in the poor house to make money for you and your investors, that's wrong," Panida said at the meeting.

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(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com