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California SB 323, Water Utility Rate Setting & Lawsuits | WWD Weekly Digest

Starting Jan. 1, 2022, water utilities in California have increased protections against so-called“bounty-hunter” lawsuits in which lawyers would sue utilities for rate increases up to 10 years old. Disguised as doing right for the ratepayer, these lawsuits were seen to rack up considerable settlement amounts, which ultimately get passed on to the ratepayer.

Claire Collins is a partner with Hanson Bridgett, a California law firm, who also serves as general counsel to Irvine Ranch Water District, West County Wastewater and Trabuco Canyon Water District. Collins explains what SB 323 does, why it is important, the effect it will have on utilities and what “reverse validation actions” are and how they play into this new law as well.

Timestamps

  • Intro | 0:00
  • About Hanson Bridgett and Collins’ background | 0:36
  • What is SB 323 in California | 1:36
  • What are “bounty hunter” lawsuits against water utilities | 3:02
  • The burden these suits place on water utilities | 6:15
  • What is a “reverse validation action”? | 8:36
  • Balancing public interests with utility interests | 11:46
  • How SB 323 will impact water utility ratepayers | 13:37
  • How utility certainty leads to ratepayer stability | 15:32
  • Outro: 16:48
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