Falling victim to town mantra (January 18, 2017)

I respect Mr. Thomas Lecoq’s right to express his support for the eminent domain takeover of Liberty Utilities, but must point out that his position, expressed in his January 18, 2017, letter to the editor, is based upon supposition and faulty information.

He falls victim to the mantra of the Town folk. His purported complaints of a guaranteed profit and paying for water not used, are flawed and not based in fact. If he took the time to understand the rate process that any investor utility is required to undergo, he would understand that the utility is only guaranteed the cost of delivering water to the customers, not profits, not sales. If the water sales do not cover the cost of delivering water, a surcharge may be allowed to recoup the difference, and once recouped, it terminates. The reason I say may is that the water utility must demonstrate it was efficient and diligent in its operations and maintained its cost of operations in line with its filings to the PUC. If it did not, or was wasteful, it may not receive a surcharge and might be required to swallow the losses. The return on investment is only a suggested, not guaranteed figure. If the Utility fails to perform, the return to investors does not materialize, period. Also note, ratepayer funds can never be used for political purposes.

Admittedly, the PUC could be a more efficient, less political, organization, but given the current climate in Sacramento, I doubt that will occur. If Mr. Lecoq, or the Town officials, or anyone, wants to criticize Liberty or support the eminent domain, they had better look at the facts, understand the process and not rely on Public Relations or attorney soundbites and puffing. If the utility is negligent, ignoring the needs of the community, allowing the system to fall into disrepair, not maintaining water quality, one can understand the need to take the system for the benefit of the people.

The city of Claremont paid $6 million in attorney fees to Best, Best & Krieger and LOST its eminent domain attempt to acquire Golden State Water. The city is potentially on the hook for $7.6 million more. Read the court’s decision, it is an eye opener, and should make an Apple Valley resident ask, Can we afford this?. I know my response is, NOT.

Diana J. Carloni, Attorney at Law, Apple Valley, CA

Published: Daily Press, January 25, 2017

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