PWC official says TOAV is misleading residents (December 15, 2014)

APPLE VALLEY — A town news release recently alleged that an executive with Park Water Co., owner of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., has refused to deny that current ratepayers would be subjected to rising costs caused by the purchase of troubled Yermo Water Co.

Although the costs of purchasing and repairing Yermo Water Co. will not be included in the three-year rate structure now awaiting final California Public Utilities Commission approval, town officials say AVR has refused to guarantee that its ratepayers will not incur these costs beyond that three-year window.

AVR is in the process of purchasing the Yermo Water, which serves that area’s approximately 250 customers. Chris Schilling, CEO of Park Water Co., indicated at the Nov. 18 Apple Valley Town Council meeting that while AVR ratepayers would not incur additional costs from YWC’s purchase over the next three-year rate cycle, he said that would likely change in 2018.

I understand the concern, Schilling said. When we file in 2018, we’ll determine what’s the best thing to do. There is a push for uniform rates statewide.

AVR has received CPUC approval for the purchase in a transaction that was largely orchestrated out of the public eye and without the environmental review mandated under the California Environmental Quality Act, according to town officials. The town has filed an application with the commission asking for a re-hearing and protesting the purchase without first completing required environmental reviews meant to protect public health.

Beyond the environmental impacts … the (purchase) will have significant economic impacts on all AVR ratepayers, the application reads. For example, the commission acknowledges and approves $732,000 in initial repairs with an expected $7 million in additional short-term upgrades.

This will result in dramatic rate increases … for former Yermo customers or, much more likely, steep increases for all AVR customers.

Town Councilwoman Barb Stanton voiced concern over the matter in a written statement last week.

We don‘t want to be Yermo’s life support, Stanton said.

Schilling responded to the town’s news release, saying the information is misleading to residents.

This is just another irresponsible attempt by the town of Apple Valley to deliberately mislead the good people of Apple Valley, Schilling said in an email to the Daily Press. It is unfortunate the town of Apple Valley continues to fuel an emotional debate using sensational, speculative and out-of-context misinformation to perpetuate what will be a long, very costly and divisive takeover battle for ownership of Apple Valley Ranchos.

The CPUC recognizes that Apple Valley Ranchos is working hard to provide a reasonable solution to the small community of Yermo, whose public health and safety have been threatened.

Source: Daily Press