After some delays, on Friday July 8th, the FINAL ORDER Denying Application for an Original Certificate to Provide Wastewater Service in Charlotte County by Environmental Utilities, LLC was posted to the PSC website.
The year-and-a-half plus administrative utility case that began with Environmental Utilities’ application to extend sewer to the Islands concluded with:
"ORDERED that for the reasons set forth herein, we find that it is not in the public interest
to grant Environmental Utilities, LLC's application for a certificate to provide wastewater
service in Charlotte County. The application is therefore denied. It is further ORDERED that this docket shall be closed."
So, is it over? Not quite yet. According to the Final Order, the EU, LLC may request:
It is interesting to note that on Tuesday, June 14th, the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners opened discussions about the denial of the utility's application. The BOCC agreed to direct staff to write a letter to the PSC supporting the application. Chairman Tiseo indicated that owner Jack Boyer had phoned each of the Commissioners the day before to apprise them of the ruling.
According to the letter, "the County whole-heartedly supports Environmental Utilities' cost-effective proposal for the removal of septic systems and the connection to sewer to treat wastewater on the
barrier islands with the condition that the project's estimated costs must remain substantially consistent with Environmental Utilities' proposal." This letter was approved at the Commission meeting on June 28th and was immediately sent to the PSC.
Two days later, Charles Rehwinkle from the Office of Public Counsel wrote a letter to the Deputy Attorney at the PSC with concerns about the BOCC letter. He requested the Commission take steps to ensure that prohibited communications are not allowed to taint the case in the issuance of the Final Order. He also wrote "Likewise, I request that you take all steps necessary to ensure that the letter is in no way considered in any post hearing matters such as reconsideration, if such is sought, or inclusion in the record of the case on appeal, if one is taken."
Knight Island Utilities, Inc. also provided a support letter after the fact. PIE's counsel, Brad Kelsky, indicated that any communications received by the PSC after the record was closed on February 8th could not be introduced as evidence in the Administrative Hearing.
So, what is the upshot of all of this activity? We should know by no later than Monday July 25th if EU has filed a motion for reconsideration and by Monday August 8th if they are filing an appeal. PIE will continue to monitor this case closely, and keep you informed of any new developments.