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Will talking to Golden State get Claremont any closer to a water deal?

After about a month of pause in the water discussion, the city of Claremont and Golden State Water Company will meet for negotiations this week.

City Manager Tony Ramos announced a closed meeting with the for-profit water company is scheduled for the end of the week. Water company officials confirmed the meeting would be held in the form of a conference call Friday morning. Legal counsel will be present for both sides.

This marks the first meeting between the groups since the city made its first formal offer for purchase of its water system. In November, Claremont attorneys presented Golden State with a $54 million offer for purchase of the city’s water system and assets. While the water company has made repeated statements that Claremont’s water system is not for sale, officials say they are open to dialog and ways to work together moving forward. The city maintains its focus on water system ownership, whether through negotiations or by acquisition.

The privately-owned water company approached the CPUC in July 2011 to request a rate increase of more than 24 percent to take effect in 2013 with additional, smaller increases to be added in 2014 and 2015. The appeal was followed by a series of protests from the water company’s customers, many here in Claremont, upset about yet another set of rate increases. After several public hearings held in November 2011 and negotiations the following spring, the CPUC has been charged with deliberating the final rate.

While a decision was anticipated by the end of 2012 in order for the rates to take effect as requested on January 1, 2013, the CPUC has yet to render any decision on the final rate.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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