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Valencia Water to challenge PUC authority

Water retailer and the wholesaler that bought it say the transaction not subject to state commission

Posted: February 15, 2013 7:06 p.m.
Updated: February 15, 2013 7:06 p.m.

Valencia Water Company is challenging the California Public Utilities Commission’s authority to decide whether the water retailer can be purchased by Santa Clarita Valley’s water wholesaler, officials said Friday.

In a ruling dated Jan. 31, an administrative law judge with the state Public Utilities Commission requested an official application from Valencia Water to transfer control of the company to the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

In his ruling, Administrative Law Judge Douglas M. Long wrote that, per state code, the Public Utilities Commission has to sign off on any transfer of control before it can occur.

Long gave Valencia Water 14 days to respond.

Instead, Valencia Water has filed a motion to reconsider Long’s ruling, said Castaic Lake Water Agency General Manager Dan Masnada.

Andrew Kotch, a spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission, could not confirm the PUC’s receipt of the motion, which Masnada said was filed Monday. But Kotch added it can take several days for filed documents to be processed.

The Castaic Lake Water Agency agreed to purchase Valencia Water in December through a stock purchase. Agency officials say they plan eventually to operate the retail water agency, as well. Castaic Lake is a water wholesaler in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Masnada said the rationale behind the motion to reconsider will be spelled out in two other documents that will be delivered to the Public Utilities Commission next week.

Those documents pertain to a separate but related matter: a complaint filed by two local environmental advocacy groups that are seeking to block the purchase all together.

Masnada said the supporting documents will be filed to the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday and will lay out legal arguments that the purchase is not subject to commission approval.

Masnada declined to give specifics on those arguments.
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