Officials wading through next steps (March 22, 2015)

Possible sale of AVR owner begins evaluation, analysis, recommendation process

After hearing public comments on March 16, officials with the California Public Utilities Commission will move through deliberations in the matter of The Carlyle Group’s proposed sale of Park Water Co. and subsidiary Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co. to Liberty Utilities.

Basically at this point we’re at a stop in the process and looking at all the information, Ting-pong Yuen, from the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, said on Thursday. The ORA is an independent office within the CPUC that represents ratepayers, strives to get the best deal possible and negotiate low utility rates.

The ORA project supervisor for the transfer-of-ownership application, Yuen said members of his office had visited Liberty’s attorney’s offices in San Francisco to get more information.

After we finish our analysis, I expect the company would respond, Yuen said.

He said the ORA analysis might be finished in early May. Then the process would ensue for negotiating conditions, reaching a settlement with the potential buyer and issuing an ORA report with recommendations, he said.

The Town of Apple Valley also is a party to the proposed sale by virtue of having filed a protest.

In Councilman (Scott) Nassif’s comments at the hearings (March 16), he restated our request of the CPUC to extend the ruling time frame to 18 months, Assistant Town Manager Dennis Cron said. We hope the CPUC will exercise its authority to take the time necessary to thoroughly review and analyze the sale of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co. to this proposed foreign investment group. It’s important they identify any potential short- and long-term effects upon the town’s residents and Apple Valley Ranchos ratepayers.

Spokesmen for buyer Liberty Utilities, with headquarters in Ontario, Canada, could not be reached for comment and spokesman for sellers The Carlyle Group said they had nothing to add to AVR’s comment:

With respect to what’s next, while we hope the process will be streamlined, given Liberty Utilities is a proven and respected utility owner and operator in California and other states throughout the United States, there is no set schedule for the CPUC to determine whether to approve the change of ownership of Ranchos’ parent, Western Water Holdings, AVR General Manager Tony Penna said. The consumer advocate group of the CPUC, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, as well as the town, are still in the process of reviewing all of the information we provided in response to their requests. The parties will be providing periodic status updates to Judge (Kimberly) Kim.

Kim presided over the public hearing sessions at the Apple Valley Conference Center, where Yuen, representatives from the Town of Apple Valley, Apple Valley Ranchos, The Carlyle Group and Liberty Utilities addressed the public.

Everyone affected by this acquisition should submit comments to us, Yuen said.

To submit written comments on the proposed sale of Western Water Holdings/Park Water Co./Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co. to Liberty Utilities, go to, click on the link for Written informal comments and follow directions for submitting by mail or email.

Source: Daily Press