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U.S. mayors ask RWE for water operations

Several U.S. municipalities on Monday urged German utility RWE AG to consider selling some of its water utilities to the communities they serve instead of to financial investors.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Several U.S. municipalities on Monday urged German utility RWE AG to consider selling some of its water utilities to the communities they serve instead of to financial investors.

Ahead of RWE's annual meeting, mayors from several U.S. states pressed the company to sell some utilities it owns through its U.S. subsidiary American Water Works Co. before a planned initial public offering.

"Our experience in Illinois has taught us that we need local control of our water systems," Laurel Prussing, mayor of Urbana, Ill., said in a statement.

"We are willing to pay a fair price, and we believe investors will benefit more from selling to us than by wasting money on a political war while neglecting much-needed maintenance," Prussing said.

Other cities including Lexington, Ky., and Monterey, Calif., also wanted the chance to acquire their utilities, he said.

The Washington-based consumer rights group Food and Water Watch also issued a joint statement with nine U.S. mayors Monday, calling on RWE to consider their communities' offer.

"CEO Harry Roels should do the right thing and listen to what our communities have to offer," said Victoria Kaplan, an organizer with Food and Water Watch.

A spokesman for RWE didn't immediately return a call Monday.

RWE, Germany's biggest electricity producer, said last month it plans to spin off Vorhees, N.J.-based American Water through a share offer.

American Water owns local utilities that provide water and sewage services to more than 18 million people in 29 U.S. states and Canada. It employs about 7,000 people.

German-based citizens' groups in Berlin and Mulheim are also calling on RWE to return its stake in their water works to the local communities.

RWE holds its annual meeting in the western city of Essen on Thursday.