Carolina Water Service wants $13.5 million from Lexington for the town to acquire two areas from the utility, according to legal records.
It's the first disclosure of a price sought by the privately-owned utility in response to an unwanted takeover offer from Town Hall.
Carolina Water Service rebuffed the buyout bid, offering instead “a nonbinding agreement stating that $13.5 million would be a reasonable price range” for two areas with a combined 3,300 homes and businesses, town officials said.
The disclosure came in response to the utility’s legal effort to force Lexington to provide a hookup to a regional sewer network. Carolina Water Service’s price equals nearly three years’ worth of the average monthly bills of all homeowners in the areas, officials said.
Utility and town officials are at odds over the best way to end sewage spills into the lower Saluda River from a Carolina Water Service facility.
Carolina Water Service handles disposal of 800,000 gallons of sewage daily at its Oak Grove plant.
Town officials joined Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler in claiming the utility is stalling to gain financial advantage in any required cleanup.
Carolina Water Service “is not interested in a resolution of this matter unless it is entirely on CWS’ terms,” town officials said in their response. “CWS has consistently refused to engage in the kind of substantive discussions that would be necessary to resolve this situation.”
Meanwhile, Stangler is pressing courts to order Utilities Inc. of Chicago – the corporate parent of Carolina Water Service – to provide more information about its finances. His organization wants the utility fined for polluting a river popular for outdoor recreation.
The information sought will assure the utility “cannot simply write off a penalty as another cost of doing business,” the organization said.
Utilities Inc. spokesman Tom Oakley declined comment Monday.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483