Past the Salt
DeepWater Desal takes proposal to the CPUC, promising cheaper water than Cal Am.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
After California American Water President Rob MacLean and DeepWater Desal CEO Brent Constantz ran into each other over lunch at the Old Capital Club in downtown Monterey in August, Constantz followed up with a reassuring email.
“I want to assure you the DeepWater Desal team has taken deliberate steps to avoid making negative comments on your proposal to the [California Public Utilities Commission],” Constantz wrote.
The eco-entrepreneur, who last year left Calera, the green cement company he co-founded, to work on desalination, says his proposed Moss Landing plant would resolve technical risks associated with California American Water’s pending proposal. His plant would draw water from deep below the surface and discharge brine deep below high concentrations of sensitive marine life.
Constantz delivered a powerpoint presentation on DeepWater Desal in meetings this summer with Stephen St. Marie and Walter Wong, chief advisers to Commissioner Catherine Sandoval and PUC President Michael Peevey, respectively.
Emails obtained by the Weekly through a Public Records Act request, which include the exchange with MacLean that was forwarded to Wong, show DeepWater Desal jockeying for the PUC’s attention.
“I hope Rob see’s [sic] the simple logic, and how it will get him and the Peninsula out of the mess he’s in,” Constantz wrote to Wong. “This solution may seem painful at first on people’s ego’s [sic], but later it would serve everyone well.”
Constantz says he’s not trying to sidestep Cal Am, since the private utility would need to distribute the water regardless of who produces it. Cal Am could purchase it from DeepWater Desal.
MacLean appears to have raised concerns about DeepWater Desal over the lunch run-in. “You indicated your view that our project will be ‘in litigation until the cows come home,’” Constantz emailed. “To date we have had no specific indication our project will fall into litigation, other than the usual ‘noise.’”
The relationship between DeepWater and Cal Am is positive, Constantz says, though the companies are not currently negotiating. “A contingency to our project may be a Moss Landing solution, which could or could not include DeepWater Desal,” Cal Am spokesman Kevin Tilden says.
Constantz expects the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority to back DeepWater Desal after their technical advisory committee reports are completed.