The owner of the water system that serves the city of Missoula has sold it to another company without the approval of the state Public Service Commission. This despite a court ruling that gives the city the right to buy the utility for a little under $90 million.
PSC spokesman Eric Sell says The Carlyle Group on Friday sold Mountain Water Co. and two water companies in California to Liberty Utilities for $327 million.
"And that’s unprecedented in the state of Montana, that a private utility has been purchased without PSC approval. So we were surprised to say the least about this transaction."
Later this afternoon, Sell said that the Public Service Commission has now asked a district court judge to re-open an earlier proceeding in which the City of Missoula challenged Liberty’s attempt to buy the water company.
Attempts to reach Liberty this afternoon were unsuccessful.
In a statement, Missoula Mayor John Engen said, “the supposed sale [has] no legal effect,” and, “the City of Missoula won the condemnation case [to buy Mountain Water] and has the court order to prove it.” Engen says “the City expects...the water system will be in Missoula’s control soon.”
Algonquin released this press release on the Mountain Water sale today.