TOAV seeks information on CPUC relationship to Carlyle companies (December 3, 2014)

CPUC has made effort ‘more difficult,’ town attorney says

APPLE VALLEY — While the town pursues a request for a boatload of records from the California Public Utilities Commission, the town attorney is challenging the completeness of the commission’s response.

The town of Apple Valley considers the records, requested under the California Public Records Act, to be critical to its efforts to purchase or acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., the town said in a statement.

As part of our due diligence, we have requested all records that reflect a relationship between the CPUC and the Carlyle Group and its related companies, Town Attorney John Brown said in the statement. Rather than respond as the law intended by providing all of the documents, the CPUC essentially has made the effort more difficult.

The town attorney sent his original request on Sept. 29, received a reply dated Oct. 30 and sent a follow-up request Nov. 13. The request asks for extensive records in nine categories of contact between commission officials and Carlyle Group and its affiliated employees: calendar entries, handouts, recorded minutes or transcripts, resulting documents, communications, summaries and descriptions, reports and studies, public hearing records and draft and final documents, especially those relating to the Apple Valley Ranchos three-year rate case before the commission.

CPUC staff members are continuing to look through documents to be responsive to the request, in accord with the commision’s reply, commission spokesman Christopher Chow said in an email on Wednesday.

The Carlyle Group, which owns AVR through a succession of subsidiaries and investment companies, wants to sell it to Toronto, Canada-based utilities company Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp.

That company proposes to do the deal through Liberty Utilities, its regulated utility business in the U.S. with some holdings in California, and the CPUC would have to approve the pending transaction.

Brown said the convoluted ownership trail for the transaction calls for a detailed understanding of all parties involved.

Carlyle Group proposes the sale through Carlyle Infrastructure Partners and subsidiary investment company Western Water Holdings, owner of Park Water Co., which owns three water companies including Apple Valley Ranchos and Mountain Water Co. in Missoula, Mont.

Missoula is involved in an eminent domain action against Mountain Water, with the case going to trial in April.

AVR and Park Water spokesmen have said the companies are not for sale individually.

Source: Staff and Gary Brodeur, Daily Press