Judge says Duquesne Light will need a court order to quit service at August Wilson Center

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An attempt by Duquesne Light to shut off utilities at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture was short-circuited today when Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Lawrence O’Toole ruled in favor of the struggling center.

Judge O’Toole approved a motion requiring Duquesne Light to seek a court order before it shuts off electricity at the Downtown center.

While there was no planned date to end the service, the August Wilson Center owes the electric company $38,000 and is running up bills of $10,000 a month, Duquesne Light spokesperson Joseph Vallarian confirmed. Company officials will discuss whether to file for a court order to shut off utilities, he said.

The unpaid fees are the latest in a series of financial woes plaguing the center, which has faced a series of fundraising shortfalls and cost overruns since opening in 2009 and before that time.

Dollar Bank filed a foreclosure on the center for outstanding mortgage payments this fall. Last month, the court appointed Judge Judith Fitzgerald as conservator for the center. A counsel for Judge Fitzgerald could not immediately be reached for comment.

Molly Born contributed. Elizabeth Bloom: ebloom@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1750.

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