Pennichuck Corporation expressed disappointment at a recent decision by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire because it means that the lengthy and costly eminent domain battle between the city of Nashua and Pennichuck is not going to end anytime soon.
The state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the state's current eminent domain law is constitutional. "We are certainly disappointed with this decision in that it eliminates an important opportunity to bring this eminent domain battle to a conclusion," said Donald L. Correll, president and CEO of Pennichuck Corporation. "We had hoped to end this process as quickly as possible. However, it's now likely that it will continue for at least the next two years, resulting in millions of dollars in costs both for the city as well as the company."
Correll pointed out that the Court's decision is but one small piece of what is a very complex, lengthy and costly legal battle, that has already resulted in more than 200 legal filings in this case and this decision could result in hundreds more. "The city still has the obligation to demonstrate that any takeover is in the best interest of the public, that it has the financial and technical capacity to operate the facility, and ultimately, if the Commission authorizes it to acquire the utility, that it is willing and able to pay the price set by the PUC."
"For anyone hoping to stop the excessive drain of taxpayer dollars being spent on this takeover effort, this is clearly a missed opportunity. This is not a victory for anyone; certainly not the taxpayers of the city of Nashua who will bear the financial burden of the city's continued actions," said Correll.
Correll said it is important to recognize that the Superior Court, which issued the order that was upheld by the Supreme Court today, also said that Pennichuck can pursue potential damages against the city at the end of the eminent domain process. This action, if successful, could result in the city being liable for many millions of dollars in damages. The Superior Court further said that Pennichuck maintains the right to pursue a jury trial after a decision by the Public Utilities Commission.
"We will continue to vigorously pursue the merits of our claims before the PUC and in the Courts in order to protect our customers, employees and shareholders as we move forward," said Correll. "We continue to believe that it is wrong for government to take over a private company, especially one that has served the community for more than 153 years."
Pennichuck Corp: www.pennichuck.com