I have a story running this weekend about how the sale in Superior went in 2000 when the town bought its own water system from Mountain Water.
I’ll link to it when it’s published, but in the meantime, here’s some related documents and info, if you’re interested.
1. A letter from lawyer John Alke saying the Montana Public Service Commission doesn’t have authority over utility transfers. Alke has represented utilities before the PSC for 33 years.
2. A letter from Mae Nan Ellingson, bond counsel for Superior in 2000, expressing some of the same arguments people in Missoula have made in favor of a sale here.
4. The Public Service Commission’s history of asserting authority over sales. See number 49 in the final order.
This post will make more sense once you read the story. I cut a couple other curious things from the story since it was too long, but I’ll share them here.
One is that when Superior bought its water system from Mountain Water, the Montana Consumer Counsel didn’t offer an opinion. I don’t know why.
MCC lawyer Mary Wright said she wasn’t there at the time, neither was her rate analyst, and neither of them know the reason the Consumer Counsel wasn’t involved. She said typically, the MCC would intervene in such a case, and they generally haven’t opposed water company sales and transfers to water districts or homeowners “where the customers clearly want to take control.”
Also, as you saw in the letter in No. 1, Alke said Montana doesn’t have an asset transfer statute. However, the city of Missoula wants to buy Mountain Water, and in the sale to Carlyle, the city was among the parties that stipulated the PSC will authorize the sale or transfer of utility property in excess of $1 million. See page 95 or just do a Ctrl+F for “ring fencing.”
OK, I’m tired now. TMI. But while we’re on the topic, I meant to link to this opinion from Vicky Gordon opposing a purchase of Mountain Water by the city of Missoula.
Really, that’s all now. Stay warm.
– Keila Szpaller