LISTEN – Presidents of Liberty Utilities and Mountain Water Respond to PSC Rulings
On Saturday, the presidents of both companies, Greg Sorenson of Liberty Utilities and John Kappes of Mountain Water Company, spoke with KGVO News about the commission's rulings.
Sorenson said he actually shared the Public Service Commission's frustration over the entire process.
"The frustration that the PSC expresses, I believe is somewhat misdirected, in that it should be directed towards the city," Sorenson said. "They inserted themselves into the process and part of the Liberty Utility philosophy is have a good working relationship with all state regulating authorities, and clearly this is not a good start. We were beginning to share information with the commission about Liberty, but then the city interjected itself with things that were not appropriate to the process."
Sorenson said the city's actions actually forced the sale to Liberty.
"Ultimately when the process was derailed by the city's actions, including having it stayed in district court, it just led to a situation where we couldn't, from a business perspective, go down that path," he added. "We had to make a business decision and close the transaction when we did."
One of the options proposed by the PSC was to look into the possibility of actually unraveling the sale itself. Mountain Water President John Kappes said the point is moot.
"Mountain Water Company was not sold," Kappes emphasized. "We are still owned by Park Water Company, and so back to the issue of 'unraveling the sale', we are still owned by the same company that owned us before. The transaction happened at the Western Water level."
Both men are encouraged that the Montana Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on the necessity of public versus private ownership on April 22 at the Dennison Theater on the UM Campus.
"We're very confident that we have a good argument on our appeal that shows that it isn't necessary for the government to take the property of Mountain Water Company, Kappes said. "We're looking forward to being able to provide those arguments further before the Montana Supreme Court. We believe it is the exact same case that was argued in the 1980's. We have the exact same parties, Mountain Water Company and the City of Missoula, and that is part of our brief in our appeal to the Supreme Court."
The court will hear oral arguments on April 22 as part of 'Montana Law Day', and the public is invited to attend.