The Montana Public Service Commission will meet on Friday in Helena to hear arguments about the unauthorized sale of Mountain Water to Liberty Utilities.

Commission spokesman Eric Sell said comments have been presented by all parties involved.

"We've received comments from the City of Missoula, Liberty Utilities, Mountain Water, the Montana Consumer Counsel and the Clark Fork Coalition to address some jurisdictional questions regarding the PSC's authority to review a transfer of this nature," Sell said. "The commissioners received all those comments last night, and the commissioners are going to discus those comments in a meeting in Helena tomorrow."

Mountain Water President John Kappes said the sale to Liberty Utilities was announced in early January.

"In January of 2015, after the California Utilities Commission had approved the transaction in California, Liberty and Carlyle closed the sale and let the PSC know that they were withdrawing from the review of the Montana Public Service Commission," Kappes said. "We do not believe that the review needs to go on any further and to make it very clear that Mountain Water Company continues to be regulated by the Public Service Commission for all of our rates, all of our service and by all of the requirements that the PSC has of Mountain Water Company."

In its comments to the PSC, Liberty Utilities maintains that the Montana commission has no authority to approve or disapprove of the sale that was closed earlier this month.

"It is undisputed that there are no Montana statutes, administrative rules, or reported judicial decisions providing the Commission with jurisdiction over the stock sale and merger of entities two levels upstream from a public utility operating in Montana. Nevertheless, Liberty Utilities agreed to seek Commission approval out of deference  to the Commission's past practices and given the closing condition requiring Commission approval in the merger agreement with Western Water."

The meeting between the Public Service Commission and all the parties involved will take place Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Bollinger Room at the Montana PSC headquarters in Helena.

Sell said there will be a time for some public comment before the meeting. Missoula Mayor John Engen said he plans to attend.


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