Public Service Commission v. Cities of Southgate, Highland Heights

Citation268 S.W.2d 19
Decision Date30 April 1954
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

J. D. Buckman, Jr., Atty. Gen., J. Gardner Ashcraft, Asst. Atty. Gen., Stephens L. Blakely, Blakely, Moore & Blakely, Covington, Floyd C. Williams, Cincinnati, Ohio, Cornelius W. Grafton, Wyatt, Grafton & Grafton, Louisville, for appellants.

James M. Honaker, Frankfort, for appellees.

CULLEN, Commissioner.

In an action in the Franklin Circuit Court, the cities of Southgate, Highland Heights, Cold Springs, Crestview, Bellevue, Dayton and Fort Thomas sought to set aside an order of the Public Service Commission which approved a sale of water utility properties by Union Light, Heat and Power Company to Commonwealth Water Company. The court entered judgment setting aside the order and remanding the case to the commission for further proceedings. From that judgment the commission, Union and Commonwealth have appealed.

Prior to April 3, 1953, Union had been operating electric, gas and water systems in a substantial area in northern Kentucky, principally in Campbell County. The water system served the cities of Fort Thomas, Bellevue, Dayton and Silver Grove, and a number of unincorporated areas. The water business represented only about five percent of Union's total business, its main operations being in the fields of gas and electricity.

On April 3, 1953, Union entered into a contract to sell its water system to Commonwealth, which was a company newly organized by a group of persons who were experienced in the water business and who owned and were operating another water company in a different part of the state. The price was approximately $600,000. The contract was conditioned upon approval by the Public Service Commission, and on April 17, 1953, Union and Commonwealth filed a joint application with the commission for approval of the sale. The cities named in the first paragraph of this opinion thereupon intervened, asking that the proposed sale be disapproved and that the matter be continued for the purpose of enabling the cities to make arrangements to purchase the water system from Union.

During the course of the hearings before the commission, the cites submitted an offer in general terms, that they would buy the water system at the price agreed to be paid by Commonwealth. The proposal was that the purchase would be made either by the cities acting jointly and sharing the cost on a proportionate basis, or by a water district which the cities would cause to be organized under KRS Chapter 74. However, the offer was not complete, in that the cities had not agreed on a specific proration of the cost and other details, nor was a water district organized before the case was decided by the Public Service Commission.

Evidence was brought out on the hearings that, because Union could use joint meter reading and joint billing for its three kinds of utility services, Union's operating costs for the water system would be some $10,000 per year less than those of Commonwealth.

The Public Service Commission found: (1) It had jurisdiction to pass on the proposed sale; (2) the desire of the cities to purchase the property was not sufficient grounds for disapproving the sale; (3) the cities, because of tax considerations, could operate the system more economically than either Union or Commonwealth, but this fact did not constitute grounds for disapproving the sale; (4) it was not necessary to determine 'with detailed finality' whether Union or Commonwealth could provide the most economical service; (5) Commonwealth was 'ready, willing and able' to provide water service in the area; and (6) the proposed sale was in the public interest. The commission thereupon ordered that the sale be approved, but closed its order with the following statement:

'Nothing contained herein shall be considered as a finding...

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8 cases
  • Bowie v. Louisiana Public Service Com'n
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court
    • November 29, 1993
    ...Re Pacific Power and Light Co. 96 PUR 4th 371, 1988 WL 391296 (Mont.Pub.Serv.Comm'n 1988); Pub. Serv. Comm'n v. Cities of Southgate, etc., 5 PUR 3d 519, 268 S.W.2d 19 (Ky.Ct.App.1954). In these other jurisdictions it is well settled that whether the power to regulate is express or implied, ......
  • Public Service Commission v. City of Paris
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • March 8, 1957
    ...has any advantages, not specifically set forth in the statutes, over any other utility. To the contrary, in Public Service Commission v. Cities of Southgate, Ky., 268 S.W.2d 19, 21, it was 'It is our opinion that the power of the Public Service Commission to determine whether a proposed pur......
  • Boone County Water and Sewer Dist. v. Public Service Com'n
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • May 22, 1997
    ...includes the concept that such powers can be ascertained by a necessary or fair implication. Public Service Com'n v. Cities of Southgate and Highland Heights, Ky., 268 S.W.2d 19 (1954), held that the jurisdiction of the commission to approve the sale of a utility system is necessarily impli......
  • Kentucky Utilities Co. v. Public Service Commission
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • February 26, 1965
    ...the lowest rates is the only type of ownership that will be permitted to operate a utility service. See Public Service Commission v. Cities of Southgate, etc., Ky., 268 S.W.2d 19. Whether, in the overall public interest, competition has advantages that offset those of monopoly is a question......
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