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SACRAMENTO - Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, today announced that their requested audit of the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) water rate setting processes has been unanimously approved by the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

The audit request, submitted this April but released for the first time today due to confidentiality rules surrounding the audit process, calls for a thorough and broad investigation of the water rate setting processes at the CPUC.

"The CPUC has consistently let down the people of this state with its regulatory practices. The current rate setting process lacks transparency and does not adequately engage the public," said Wilk. "This audit will pull back the veil and expose what's really going on inside the CPUC and what accounts for the skyrocketing water rates customers are experiencing all over the state."

The audit stems from complaints from consumers in the Antelope and Victor valleys that rates have increased to exorbitant levels. Customers have asserted that these rates, coupled with various fees also being charged, have created a financially unsustainable situation for many residents and have led to private water companies, which are regulated by the CPUC, charging the highest water bills in the state when compared to their publicly owned counterparts.

"This audit will shed light on how water rates are set and what potential steps can be taken to keep them affordable for Antelope Valley residents," said Lackey. "I applaud Senator Wilk's work in getting this audit approved."

Senator Wilk and Assemblyman Lackey have been engaged on this issue since last year when constituents in the Antelope Valley began to complain about their water rates, which their bills clearly showed have increased by over 215 percent over the last decade.

"It is crucial that we ensure our folks in the Antelope Valle and throughout the state are not being overcharged by the utility companies we trust to provide them with clean and affordable water," said Wilk. "Assemblyman Lackey and I are here to ensure our water companies and the entity that oversees them are properly serving consumers by providing reasonable rates. This audit is a big step in that direction as it will illuminate the regulatory practices driving rates through the roof."

The approved audit request has now been handed over to the California State Auditor whose staff will begin the investigations immediately. The Auditor estimates the audit will take approximately 2,400 staff-hours and six months to complete.

Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey represent the 21st Senate and 36th Assembly districts which together encompass the Santa Clarita, Antelope and Victor valleys.