Today (05.25.22) PIE received an email from our attorney Brad Kelsky with the subject line “Staff is recommending denial.” Attached was the comprehensive, 54-page Memorandum from the PSC staff to the Commissioners outlining each of the 14 issues associated with the wastewater application.
Under Issue 2 “Need for Service”, the staff examined the arguments and determined that EU has not established a need for central sewer service here. In Item 9 “Public Interest” the PSC staff states as follows:
“As discussed in Issue 2 [ed. note. Need for Service], staff recommends that the Utility has not demonstrated a need for service in the proposed service territory. Staff believes that this is of significant concern. The Utility has not provided any request for service from existing residents of the proposed service territory, and written correspondence has indicated that the existing residence are largely opposed to EU’s application. EU has not provided evidence that any environmental regulator mandated the conversion of septic systems to central sewer, and no evidence has been provided substantiating EU’s claim of an environmental or health related need. Nor were any County leaders present during the hearing to clarify the needs of the County. Finally, although customer preference is not an appropriate basis for granting or denying a certificate application, in terms of demonstrating a need for the service, the overwhelming majority of prospective customers who testified before the Commission stated they were in opposition to the application.
Since EU has not demonstrated a need for service, staff believes that EU’s financial and technical capability is irrelevant. Since no need for service exists, and the existing residents are largely opposed to EU’s application, staff believes the Utility’s application is not in the public interest. Therefore, staff recommends that EU’s application for a wastewater certificate should be denied.”
Note the references to the substantial opposition to EU’s proposal. In the case background, staff wrote: “A total of 53 customers spoke at the service hearings and over 1,000 written customer comments were received.” It was clear that the participation of an engaged community was influential in the recommendations.
Our Island communities should be very proud of the impact we have had in these proceedings. Every action– writing emails, watching and speaking at the hearings and donating to the legal Action Fund – made a huge difference.
A summary of the staff recommendations appears on the Commission Conference Agenda for June 7th (CLICK HERE to view). This is where the Commissioners will make their final ruling on the sewer docket by approving or discarding the staff recommendations.
CLICK HERE to view the detailed Memorandum from the PSC staff.