Public Utilities Commission Votes to Sink Regional Water Project
July 13, 2012
The Regional Water Project went out with barely a whimper on Thursday.
A month after Administrative Law Judge Gary Weatherford proposed the California Public Utilities Commission agree to abandon the desalination project, the commissioners voted 5-0 to bury the project.
"Given the uncertainty surrounding [the California Environmental Quality Act], financing, and the ability to obtain permits for the Regional Desalination Project, it is not reasonable to force Cal Am to pursue the Regional Desalination Project," the decision states.
California American Water abandoned the $400 million project in January, instead offering up its own water supply proposal—without public partners Marina Coast Water District and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.
"The Commission is clearly focused on moving forward with a water project, which is urgently needed to avoid severe state-ordered cutbacks to the community's water supply," Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Bowie says by email.
The PUC has approved the recovery of $26.5 million that was spent on the project so far; Cal Am has already recovered $14.4 million from its customers. Other outstanding costs are still in dispute among the three partners.
Meanwhile, Marina Coast has an outstanding $25 million claim against Monterey County for reneging on the agreements that formed the basis of the project.