What the Public Utilities Commission’s ruling means for Seattle’s public utilities
The Public Utilities Board is ruling that Seattle Public Utilities should pay a public charge of $250 million to the City of Seattle for a 2014 public service takeover of the Seattle Metropolitan Sewerage District.
The Public Utilities Agency has sued the city, saying the agency was improperly prevented from negotiating an agreement to purchase sewer service in the city.
The lawsuit seeks a $300 million civil judgment.
Under the terms of the deal, the Public Utility Agency purchased sewer service from Seattle’s city-owned utilities, which it was obligated to pay a fee to the city and the city of Seattle, but was not obligated to purchase any sewer system itself.
The city filed a lawsuit in September claiming that the PUC violated its public contract with the agency by refusing to bargain in good faith, and failing to properly oversee its oversight of the utility purchase.
The judge issued the ruling Tuesday, setting the next step for the city’s lawsuit.
The judge also said the city should get a court order requiring the city to purchase a new sewer system.
The decision could help the city defend itself in a lawsuit against the PUB, which is being overseen by the state’s Public Utilities Department.
The state agency has also sued the PPU, saying it violated its contract with it and the state Public Utility Commission by not negotiating in good Faith.
The Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution to require the POU to negotiate in good conscience with the city over a new system to replace the sewer system and maintain its services.
The PPU is in the process of renegotiating a new contract with Seattle that will require the city pay a civil penalty of up to $250,000.
The city has already been penalized $1 million for not paying the fine.
The PPU said in a statement that the ruling “sends a clear message to Seattle’s utilities that it will not be permitted to unilaterally buy the city its sewer service.
Seattle Public Utility Service will continue to operate in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Public Service Agreement, and will honor its contract obligations with the PBU.”