Water Records To Get Review

State corporation commission staff ordered to examine Pine water records; rate hearing deferred

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The Pine Water Company’s application to defer a hearing on a water rate increase has been approved by Arizona Corporation Commission, which also ordered the company to provide complete financial data in 60 days.

The commission instructed the ACC staff to comb over the information and file a report 90 days later.

The action took place March 3 during an ACC meeting in Phoenix.

Some Pine water users returned from the meeting saying the commission’s orders for financial reports put Bob Hardcastle, president of Brooke Utilities — the parent company of PWC — on notice that the actions of the rural water company were going to be closely scrutinized.

ACC public information officer Rebecca Wilder seemed to confirm that saying, “It is not an order that is made in most cases — the commissioners believe that because of the concerns raised in this case, a financial review is warranted.”

Brooke Utilities spokesperson Myndi Brogdon disagrees, arguing the ACC order is no more than an annual report filing.

“PWC feels it is appropriate and not unusual in this case,” she said.

Some of the concerns the commission heard were raised during the meeting when several Pine residents, including Realtor Ray Pugel and Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District interim manager Harry Jones, spoke about Brooke’s alleged controversial business practices that include decaying infrastructure, inadequate service and the need to haul water during the summer droughts.

PSWID chairman Bill Haney, who attended the meeting, believes the ACC’s order to provide financial reports could help PSWID in its efforts to buy or condemn PWC.

“It (the order) is of benefit to everybody,” he said.

Brogdon said BU asked for the water rate hearing extension because “it doesn’t make sense for Pine Water Company to pursue a rate case with the pending condemnation, which, if successful, would make a rate case a moot point.”

Hardcastle, Haney and other representatives of PSWID and BU met Feb. 5 to mull over the purchase of the water company.

Since then, however, everyone who attended has refused to reveal any details about it or if any type of consensus was agreed upon.

“It’s confidential, we cannot discuss it,” Haney said.

“There are ongoing discussions, but that is all we can let you know at this point in time.”

Brogdon, who attended the meeting, also said she could not comment.

“All parties are subject to the settlement negotiations rule, and I can say no more.”

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