Sand Jose Water submits regulatory application to acquire CT Water Company
CT's WATER FOR SALE: San Jose Water (SJW) of California is currently seeking regulatory approval to acquire CT Water Co., one of CT's largest private water utilities. Last year, Aquarion Water Co. was bought by Eversource. Who will have the right to store and distribute (i.e. control) large volumes of CT's water? Many, many questions are being raised. Is this in the public's best interest? What will be done with any lands SJW wishes to sell off? Will it support the proposed State Water Plan? Does it regard water as a public trust resource? Are there potential conflicts of interest, given SJW is an out-of-state for-profit company which also has interests in real estate development? Will it be a good steward of our water sources and water infrastructure? Hopefully CT is not to become the land of "water opportunity" with a reasonably plentiful supply and "a favorable regulatory climate".
PLEASE SEE RIVERS ALLIANCE WEBSITE http://www.riversalliance.org/Top…/Water_Infrastructure.php… for an in-depth discussion. Details on submitting a comment or question to the Public Utilities Regulatory Agency, are also provided there: Docket # 18-07-10.
Save Our Water CT has submitted the following comments and questions to the Public Utility Regulatory Agency for its consideration in this deliberation:
September 2, 2018
Re: Docket 18-07-10 [Application of SJW Group and Connecticut Water Service, Inc. for Approval of Change of Control].
We are writing on behalf of Save Our Water CT to share our concerns regarding the acquisition of Connecticut Water Service, Inc. by SJW Group.
Save Our Water CT is a citizen-activist group that formed in early 2016 in response to Niagara Bottling’s negotiations with the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the Town of Bloomfield to bring a large water bottling plant to Bloomfield. In 2012 the MDC proposed an 18 mile out-of-basin transfer of water to UConn. During the last two and a half years we have witnessed a serious, prolonged state drought; a reluctance and outright refusal by water utilities to publicly release non-security-sensitive water supply plan details; industrial rate discounting of water that rewards increased usage as opposed to conservation; and the opposition of the business and water utility lobby to the already-established statute referencing water as a public trust resource (CT G.S. 22a-15). Consequently, we have been following news of the proposed “change of control” of Connecticut Water Service with interest. Quoting briefly from page 3 of the joint application:
“The Authority has also found that it has a statutory responsibility, inherent under Title 16 of the General Statutes, to ensure that the change of control is in the public interest…… The change of control is in the public interest as it is expected to provide benefits to customers by providing opportunities to increase the reliability and adequacy of water service, to increase access to capital, and to improve customer service. Moreover, in the long run the Transaction will provide opportunities to reduce costs through economies of scale and operating efficiencies which will benefit customers by exerting downward pressure on rates.”
Our expectation and hope is that PURA will take a sufficiently broad view of what constitutes “the public interest” in considering this application. We think that Connecticut state agencies have an obligation to consider long-term impacts on all Connecticut citizens and on the environment in proposed “changes in control” of public trust resources – not just the proposed new company’s customers.
Apart from the question of whether the proposed acquisition would actually deliver to customers those purported benefits it is “expected” to provide, the acquisition would impact more than the company’s customers. For example:
We hope that PURA will take time to thoroughly and thoughtfully review this application. Connecticut water is a public trust resource and citizens are relying on you to safeguard that resource.
Thank you for your consideration.
Public Act 17-211, " An Act Concerning Access to Water Planning Information"
Save Our Water CT
Citizen advocates acting to protect and conserve Connecticut's public trust waters.