TOAV, AVRWC disagree on impact of YWC purchase (July 2, 2015)

APPLE VALLEY — The town tells some residents in a news release this week ratepayers will be tabbed for a local water company’s recent acquisition of the troubled Yermo Water Co. outside of Barstow.

San Bernardino County Superior Court last week finalized the $300,000 sale, which will have a significant economic impact on all Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co. ratepayers, the Town of Apple Valley said. In its initial approval of the sale last year, the California Public Utilities Commission authorized $732,000 in initial repairs, with an expected $7 million in additional short-term upgrades.

Apple Valley Ranchos customers have had to bankroll corporate profits for years, and now we’ll be paying for the acquisition of Yermo, which benefits no one in our community, Apple Valley Mayor Pro Tem Barb Stanton said in a statement. The repairs and upgrades alone will lead to more rate increases, for the current Yermo customers and for AVR customers.

Not unexpectedly, the water company sees things differently.

In reality the acquisition of Yermo by Apple Valley Ranchos will have the ultimate effect of lowering the cost of service for Ranchos customers as we spread our costs over a larger customer base, Park Water Co. CEO Christopher Schilling said in a statement. The fact is Ranchos is providing a solution for a neighboring desert community in dire need of reliable, high-quality and safe water service.

Further, it is disingenuous for the Apple Valley Town government to resort to misinformation and sensational claims about the acquisition of the Yermo water system when the Town of Apple Valley actively participated in the process that has led to the pending decision by the California Public Utilities Commission. The rates being paid by Yermo customers for water service will support current investment in that water system and Ranchos will also actively pursue grant funding to further improve this distressed water system.

The town protested the acquisition of Yermo, citing economic and environmental concerns, officials said. The transaction was orchestrated out of the public eye, they say, and without the environmental review mandated under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Source: Gary Brodeur, Daily Press

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