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April 21, 2009
     
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State Regulatory Relations


NARUC Regional Conferences Prepare for Meetings

The 2009 New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners’ (NECPUC) Symposium will be May 3 through May 6 at the Hyatt Regency Newport, R.I.

Charles Firlotte, president & CEO, Aquarion Water Company and Eric Thornburg, president and CEO, the Connecticut Water Company will present on the panel, “Sustainable Water Supply – What Best Practices will keep the Taps Running?” moderated by the Honorable John W. Betkoski, III, commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.

For more information, including registering for the Symposium, please click here: http://www.necpuc.org/symposium.htm. For a copy of the agenda, please click here.

For reservations at the Hyatt Regency Newport, please call (800) 233-1234, Monday-Friday, and reference the “NECPUC Symposium.” The Hyatt Regency’s 24-hour direct number is 401-851-1234.

The Western Member States Conference will be held from June 6-10, 2009, at the Mauna Lani Resort, in Kohala, Hawaii.

Peter Nelson, CEO and president of California Water Service Group and Paul Foran, vice president-Regulatory Programs, American Water will present on the panel, “Sustainable Water Supply: What Best Practices Will Keep the Tap Running?” moderated by the Honorable David King, commissioner, New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

For more information, please go to: http://plonedev.hawaii.gov/budget/puc/WCPSC.

The Mid-America Regulatory Commissioners Conference (MARC) will be held at the Grand Traverse Resort, Traverse City, Michigan June 14-17, 2009.

Paul Foran, vice president-Regulatory Programs, American Water will present on the panel, “Wall Street: Drop, Stock, & Barrel. What is happening in our economy and how will it affect energy, telecommunications, and water industry investments today and tomorrow.”

David Baker, president, Indiana American Water Company, will present on the panel, “Regulation in a Climate Worry World. From Decoupling to allowing experimental projects for AMI in rate base to assuring upgrades for gaining efficiencies, how must today’s regulator adapt to the changing utility environment given efficiency and climate concerns.”

Karla Teasley, president, Illinois American Water Company, will present on the panel,
“Sustainable Communities. At home, in our communities, is the first place we can see opportunity to create innovative ways to address energy needs and water supply challenges. Let’s learn from these best practices.”

Kimberly Joyce, manager of Regulatory Affairs, Aqua America, Inc. will present on the panel, “Pipeline Safety & Efficiency. Our aging infrastructure not only poses significant safety hazards, but can impact public health. What strategies and best practices can be used to improve our infrastructure?”

For more information, please go to: marc-conference.org/2009.

The Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (MACRUC) will meet from June 21-24, 2009 in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Hershey Hotel.

William Varley, president, Long Island Water Company and Walton Hill, Sr. vice president, United Water Resources will participate in a panel, “Energy Conservation and Demand-Side Management: How Can the Water Industry We Regulate Help to Reduce Forecasted Electric Demand?” moderated by the Honorable Pat Acampora, commissioner, New York State Public Service Commission.

For more information, please go to: http://macruc.narucmeetings.org.

The Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (SEARUC) will meet June 21-24, 2009 at the Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina.

Nicholas DeBenedictis, chairman and president, Aqua America will present on the panel, “Sustainable Water Supply – What Best Practices Will Keep the Tap Running?” moderated by the Honorable John "Butch" Howard, commissioner, South Carolina Public Service Commission.

For more information, please go to: http://www.psc.sc.gov/searuc2009/.

As a reminder, on May 4 registration opens for the NARUC Summer meetings to be held July 19-22, 2009 at the Westin Seattle in Seattle. For more information and to register please click here: http://summer.narucmeetings.org/.

 

Update On Carlsbad Desalination Plant

On April 8, 2009, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board announced it was prepared to move forward with the final permitting of Poseidon Resources’ Carlsbad, California, desalination plant after concluding that Poseidon’s proposal to restore approximately 55 acres of coastal wetlands was sufficient. The following day, a California Superior Court Judge issued a tentative ruling rejecting environmental intervenor arguments that the California Coastal Commission had misapplied state law when it gave Poseidon a coastal development permit to construct the facility. Poseidon hopes to complete the project and to begin delivering water in 2011.

 

Federal Court Defers To PUC

The United States District Court for the District of Hawaii stayed a complaint proceeding involving parties to a Water Service Agreement so that the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission could first adjudicate the plaintiff’s contract claims. Kealia Water Company Holdings v. Plantation Partners Kauai, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29392. Invoking the doctrine of “prudential exhaustion,” the Court observed that (1) the PUC’s specific expertise and broad supervisory powers in dealing with utility matters weighed heavily in favor of having the PUC initially interpret the Agreement; (2) the plaintiff was a public utility and should not be permitted to bypass the PUC review process; and (3) review by the PUC might obviate, or at least mitigate, the need for judicial review.

 

Suburban Water Granted Rate Increase

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has authorized Suburban Water Systems to increase its annual operating revenues by approximately $5.5 million, or 11 percent. Application of Suburban Water Systems, Decision 09-03-007 (March 12, 2009). The PUC also signaled its intent to launch an industry-wide rulemaking of interest to all water utilities:

Two issues arose in this proceeding that generally impact all regulated water utilities in California; transactions between parent companies and their subsidiaries (affiliate transactions); and, the use of regulated assets for both tariffed and non-tariffed utility operations (termed as “excess capacity” in the subject application). Although we have issued decisions on both of these issues, we find it necessary and timely to address these two issues on an industry-wide basis. This decision anticipates that a rulemaking for setting industry-wide rules for affiliate transactions and the use of regulated assets for non-tariffed operations will be issued shortly.

Notably, the Commission does not currently have in place general rules governing affiliate transactions with respect to water utilities.