What Are We Doing?
Opposing the hostile takeover of Liberty Apple Valley
Dear California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC),
I am writing in support of the proposal by Liberty Utilities to acquire and run Mesa-Crest Water Company (Proceeding A1704024).
Our home is served by Liberty Utilities, and I have found them to be an excellent water system provider. They are transparent in their reports, attentive to the condition of their system, pro-active in maintenance and replacement (to the extent allowed by the CPUC, of course), and deliver very high quality water — all at a price that is comparable to the bloated and sometimes poorly-run municipal water systems in our area.
I know that the Town of Apple Valley has indicated it will be filing a protest to this (if indeed they have not done so already), so I especially wanted you to know that they do not represent me and my family, nor thousands of others here in Apple Valley who recently voted “no confidence” in the Town-sponsored Measure W related to our water system.
My personal feeling is that the Town has squandered so many millions of dollars from reserves, from HUD, and from RDA that they have painted themselves into a corner — the only escape from which is a hostile takeover of our water company so they can divert water funds to the general fund. This is why they have misrepresented virtually every aspect of Liberty’s operations, at the same time labeling the CPUC as corrupt and nothing more than a rubber stamp for the utilities you regulate.
For example, Town Council member Larry Cusack recently wrote, “the Town of Apple Valley is trying to wrest control from a state-dominated regulatory process that puts our fate in the hands of a politically appointed, corrupt organization known as the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). […] History tells us that the executives and leadership team of the CPUC is either made up of ex-private utility executives or individuals who are going to a new job in the industry they are supposed to regulate. Clearly this system, which was designed to protect users from being abused by private monopolies, has been compromised by politics and money.” (Daily Press, May 21, 2017)
Mayor Scott Nassif recently wrote, “If the CPUC did their job by truly regulating Liberty’s water rates based on operations and investment, things might be different. But as many of us know the CUPC [sic] has been riddled with corruption and operates without voter, or legislative, oversight.” (Daily Press, May 19, 2017)
The Town’s position seems to be that Liberty Utilities is at the same time so greedy that it is gouging ratepayers in Apple Valley, but is too stupid to make money on the Yermo and Mesa-Crest systems. Clearly, the Town and its attorneys from BB&K will say or do anything to avoid being perp-walked out of Town Hall to explain the missing millions.
Having read some of the CPUC’s decisions, I know that you (and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates) take into account all the factors involved, and that not much gets passed you. As a small-government libertarian, I’m not a big fan of government control of free enterprise, but even so I must acknowledge that you have been doing a great job for us in Apple Valley.
Thanks, and keep up the good work.
— Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.