Companies blamed for power outage agree to pay city of Aspen
December 19, 2014
The city of Aspen and the two companies fingered for the Aug. 4 power outage in the downtown area finalized an agreement in Aspen Municipal Court on Wednesday that calls for the city to be reimbursed $17,324 in out-of-pocket expenses related to the blackout.
Edwards-based LKP Engineering Inc. entered a no-contest plea — which is not an admission of fault — to one count of unlawful damage to city electric department property and agreed to pay $12,993 to the city as restitution, under the disposition signed by Municipal Court Judge Brooke Peterson.
A subcontractor, Morrison-based Odell Drilling Inc., also entered a no-contest plea to a charge of unlawful damage to city electric department property and agreed to pay $4,331.
Those amounts respectively equate to 75 percent and 25 percent of expenses the city incurred in the outage, according to court documents.
The two companies also received a one-year deferred judgment on the violation of city code to which they pleaded no contest. That means they cannot violate any city ordinances or state criminal laws, with the exception of minor traffic offenses, over the next 12 months or they run the risk of further penalties, including a fine of up to $2,650 and/or one year in jail.
When the one-year deferred-judgment period has passed, the charge is dismissed.
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According to city officials, LKP and Odell were involved in a project at a residence on East Hallam Street when workers severed a main electric feeder line, causing widespread outages and affecting numerous businesses. The crew was working without a permit, the city has said.
LKP called the city to report the issue at 11:30 a.m. and power was not fully restored until around 10 p.m. during what was expected to be a busy Friday night during the summer season for local restaurants and bars.
Following the blackout, both companies faced three charges: failing to obtain a permit for construction or excavation work within a public right-of-way; unlawful damage to city electric department property; and failure to protect street improvements, utilities and adjacent property from damage or disturbance.
There was little discussion of the matter during the short proceeding. The agreement was signed by the owners of the companies, their attorneys and Assistant City Attorney Debbie Quinn as well as Peterson.
Attorneys representing local businesses that claim to have suffered thousands of dollars in lost business and damaged goods as a result of the outage have filed civil lawsuits against the two companies. The city is not a party to any of the pending suits, Quinn said Wednesday.
When speaking about the proposed disposition last week, City Attorney Jim True said the city was not seeking any restitution from the two companies beyond the cost of repairs.