Rate increases decided with no local accountability?
One of the critical advantages of community ownership of Apple Valley’s water system is the ability of the Town Council to make decisions on water rates with the people who pay the water bill, not a state body that makes decisions with the utilities.
If the town owned the water system, any and all decisions about the system, improvements, rates and strategy would be handled by the town council in an open setting. Those decisions would be placed on the council agenda and the public would have the opportunity to give input and watch as decisions are made.
Under the current set-up, AVR makes its rate increase requests to the California Public Utilities Commission. This is a body that is appointed by the governor. And history is showing that these commissioners are not accountable to the voters.
A recent series of articles in the San Diego Union-Tribune detailed how Michael Peevey, the former CPUC president, guided millions of dollars into a private research opportunity for UCLA that had a specific agenda in mind. The decisions were made in secret and only came to light when the newspaper filed public records acts requests that the CPUC was forced to comply with. [Emails show UCLA, CPUC deal making]
This came after the CPUC was forced to reveal that it had grown a small legal contract of $50,000 to more than $1 million — again without telling the public what it was doing. [CPUC records attorneys tab: $1.1M]
Now think about this. If AVR proceeds with plans to sell the water system to a Canadian company, Apple Valley will have a foreign company with deep pockets bringing its water rate cases before a commission of appointed people with no local accountability. What do you think will happen to rates then?