Study foretold Abengoa woes

Calvin Finch hates to say, “I told you so.” But he feels he should anyway. “Yeah,” Finch said, “and I’m disappointed that I can.” This week, the San Antonio Water System’s board of trustees voted to allow a Kansas City firm to take over the utility’s largest-ever pipeline project, a dramatic turn of events linked to the financial troubles of a firm first enlisted to build the 142-mile pipeline. Last year — months before Abengoa SA, a Spanish firm, fell…

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Editorial: Flawed Vista Ridge project doesn’t make sense

In February 2014, San Antonio Water System CEO Robert Puente informed us that SAWS would not pursue the Abengoa Vista Ridge water supply project, or AVR, because the project was too risky. He was quoted as saying: “Groundwater law in Texas leaves too much uncertainty and risk for the private and public sectors.” Instead, SAWS recommended the phased-in expansion of their brackish groundwater desalination to provide additional supply. Within days, SAWS backtracked, announcing it would work with Abengoa to find…

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Repaying loan may affect SAWS’ pipeline deal

The San Antonio Water System’s Vista Ridge pipeline project is still moving ahead, despite concerns over a $120 million loan, litigation between water suppliers and a challenge to rate increases from customers outside the city limits. Garney Construction, a company interested in purchasing a controlling share in the 142-mile pipeline project, spent part of this week in New York City negotiating with a group of international banks, SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente said. Garney, based in Kansas City, is…

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SAWS: Banks Not Cooperating On Renegotiating Vista Ridge Loan

By mid-week the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) expects to know whether it will be able to easily move ownership of the Vista Ridge pipeline to a different company. Because of financial problems current owner Abengoa has agreed to sell 80-percent of the water project to Garney Construction, but an outstanding loan complicates matters, and has forced SAWS to consider other options. As the contract manager for the 142-mile pipeline, Abengoa Vista Ridge took out a $120 million loan to…

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The Source: More Questions In SAWS Vista Ridge Deal

Last night, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) held the first of four public meeting on the changes to the 142 -mile Vista Ridge Pipeline. The $3.4 billion deal, which covers 50,000 acre feet of water per year for 30 years, will have a change in ownership. Spanish Conglomerate Abengoa, struggling to pay its debts, had to sell 80 percent of its position in the deal. Garney Construction, which has worked with SAWS on several projects, has been selected as the company…

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One Vista Ridge Loan Application Approved; A Second Denied

In 2013 voters approved the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, commonly referred to as SWIFT.  The fund provides highly sought-after low-interest loans for building water projects. Qualifying for a SWIFT loan can save utilities and taxpayers a lot of money. For example, a $140 million SWIFT loan approved for Tarrant County last year is expected to save rate payers there more than $39 million over the cost of a traditional market loan. The Texas Water Development Board recently considered…

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Vista Ridge Pipeline Opponents Win Small Victory

Opponents of the city of San Antonio’s Vista Ridge water supply project scored a minor win this week when Texas Water Development Board staff announced the 142-mile pipeline was ineligible to seek an $885 million low-interest construction loan. Abengoa Vista Ridge, the Spanish subsidiary company that San Antonio’s water utility contracted with in 2014 to build the pipeline, had agreed to finance construction and assume all financial risk if the project fell through. San Antonio Water System officials repeatedly cited…

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Vista Ridge Changes Before Council

The San Antonio City Council awaits details from SAWS on the changes with the Vista Ridge Project. SAWS officials are expected to detail the shift in project control from troubled Abengoa to Garney Construction. “I need to be assured that the contract that was entered into with Abengoa remains the same,” Councilman Ron Nirenberg told KTSA News. He’s talking about risk “that in fact we are still protecting the San Antonio taxpayer.” Councilman Mike Gallagher wants to make sure continuity exists……

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Council will leave pipeline deal changes to SAWS

The San Antonio Water System, not the City Council, will retain sole control over who will develop a massive water pipeline to eventually supply up to 20 percent of the city’s water. The issue came up in a Wednesday meeting of the San Antonio City Council’s governance committee seven weeks after District 8 Councilman Nirenberg filed a formal request for council members to vote on a plan to shift control of the project to a new investor. Nirenberg, Mayor Ivy…

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Mayor faces ethics complaint over pipeline, political contributions

A member of the Sierra Club’s Alamo Group has filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Ivy Taylor, alleging she inappropriately accepted campaign contributions from the owners of Pape-Dawson Engineers, who were involved in contract negotiations for the controversial Vista Ridge water pipeline. Gay Wright, a member of the group’s executive committee, filed the complaint Thursday alleging that Taylor violated the city’s ethics code by accepting contributions from political contributors who stand to gain financially from the Vista Ridge contract. The…

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