BPU approves sale, pending appeal

The state Board of Public Utilities granted a preliminary approval to the proposed $75 million sale of Trenton Water Works infrastructure to New Jersey American Water Co. on Friday.

The approval, however, will be automatically stayed due to language mandating such a stay in the event of the filing of a “timely appeal” of an earlier court decision that overturned a protest petition seeking to block the sale.

The appeal process actually began Monday, when Trenton residents fighting the misguided sale filed a motion for reconsideration following the discovery of critical documents that neither the city nor New Jersey American Water Co. revealed to the court, which provide a sound basis for reversing the March 17 court decision.

The documents – two separation studies commissioned by the city in 2000 and 2006 – plainly show the Trenton Water Works to be a single unified system that serves many thousands of Trenton residents, as opposed to the two system-utility that Judge Linda Feinberg saw as the basis for invalidating the protest petition.

Since then, city residents attained the separation studies and contracted with an engineer to provide an independent analysis of the documents.

They reveal the Trenton Water Works to be a single, interconnected system that relies on pipes and water storage facilities in the suburbs surrounding the city to provide water for the majority of the city’s population.

Should Judge Feinberg fail to reconside her earlier ruling, the city residents fighting the sale plan on filing a “timely appeal” with the state Appellate Division, further halting the sale, which threatens to eliminate the city’s last remaining revenue-generating asset.

If the sale is completed, Trenton will be left with a much smaller and unprofitable utility that will likely operate at a large deficit, ensuring its eventual, complete sale to New Jersery American Water, “the Wal-Mart of water”.

City residents will hold a rally and press conference at the Mercer County Courthouse at 1 p.m. Tuesday in honor of the appeal effort.

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