TRINITY — State regulators on Tuesday ordered Aloha Utilities to explain why it should not be fined $15,000 for failing to report delays in building a water treatment system that was supposed to improve the quality of customers' drinking water.
The Florida Public Service Commission sided with a staff recommendation that Aloha needed to lay out its defense. But the report suggested a fine of only $5,000.
Commissioners on Tuesday said that figure was not punitive enough, especially after Aloha representatives volunteered to simply pay the fine and be done with the matter. Commissioners said they wanted Aloha officials to explain themselves.
"I think it definitely sends a clear message to Aloha," state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said of the higher possible fine. "I'm pleased the commission … has heard the customers' call."
The commission also agreed with a staff recommendation to put a 120-day hold on Aloha's plans to build the water treatment system and to hook up to Pasco County's water system.
The Florida Governmental Utility Authority, which Pasco joined in February, had asked for the temporary hold.
The utility authority argues that, if it bought Aloha, it would purchase enough water from Pasco County that the treatment system may not be necessary.