Mountain Water UPDATE – Mayor Engen Lashes Out – PSC Goes To Court [YouTube]
In what has been a truly remarkable day regarding the surprise sale of Missoula's Mountain Water Company, there have been strident responses from Mayor John Engen, and the Montana Public Service Commission.
On Friday, the Caryle Group sold Park Water, which includes Mountain Water, to Algonquin/Liberty Utilities, unbeknownst to anyone in Missoula, or even in Montana for about $324 million. KGVO broke the story at about 10:30 Monday morning. Since then, Mayor John Engen issued a fiery press release, lashing out at the company's action.
The company that lost Mountain Water Company (Carlyle) just purported to sell the company to Canada (Algonquin/Liberty). Carlyle’s and Algonquin’s announcement and supposed sale have no legal effect.
The reality is that the City of Missoula won the condemnation case and has the court order to prove it. The City has the right to take possession of the water system at a price that has been determined in court.
The Carlyle Group, Algonquin and Liberty are taking inconsistent legal positions. In the process, they have thumbed their noses at two Montana State District Courts (Judge Townsend and Judge Halligan) and the Montana Public Service Commission. Only after Carlyle and Mountain Water lost the water system in court did they pursue this desperate course of action.
Carlyle and Mountain Water have shown a complete disregard for Montana Courts and Montana law, and Algonquin/Liberty appear not to be paying attention. While Carlyle and Mountain Water still think they are above the law, the City expects they and their Canadian friends will continue to lose in Court, and the water system will be in Missoula’s control soon.
--- Mayor John Engen
Meanwhile, the Montana Public Service Commission was not idle. Spokesman Eric Sell told KGVO News that the agency's lawyers went right to court.
"The PSC filed a motion in district court this afternoon requesting that Judge Halligan lift the temporary stay that she put on the proceedings last December," Sell said. "Right now, what we're requesting is that she lift the stay so that we can solicit input from the parties to our proceeding, which include the City of Missoula, and the joint applicants Liberty, the Carlyle Group and Mountain Water."
"Right now, we're of the opinion that we (the PSC) retain jurisdiction in this situation," he said. "These types of sales and transfers always go through the PSC. They always go forward with PSC approval or are denied by the PSC. So, right now, we want to solicit some input from the parties as far as these proceedings go, but to do that we need to have this stay on our proceeding lifted by the district court."
KGVO News will continue to monitor this volatile story as it develops.