TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ A judge ruled Tuesday that 14 Washington state utilities do not have to stand trial in a class action lawsuit concerning $2.25 billion in bonds used to build two defunct nuclear power plants.

U.S. District Judge William Browning signed the order hours after the U.S. Department of Justice approved the federal government's share of a $226 million settlement announced Monday between the utilities and buyers of municipal bonds the Washington Public Power Supply System used to build the plants.

Browning's action, which he has taken with other defendants that have reached settlements, left Snohomish County Public Utility District as the sole utility defendant in the trial, which was to resume Wednesday.

The bondholders claim the utilities and other defendants lied and hid information that might have discouraged prospective investors in the WPPSS municipal bonds. WPPSS defaulted on the bonds in 1983 after scrapping the nuclear plants a year earlier.

The Department of Justice approved a $35 million settlement contribution by the Bonneville Power Administration, a power broker that markets electricity from dams in the Columbia River system.

Boards and commissions for the 14 utilities approved settlement proposals Monday, bringing their total share to $181 million. Washington state will add $10 million to the settlement package, contingent on legislative approval.

The Snohomish Public Utility District has until Nov. 10 to join the settlement by approving a $48.6 million contribution, said Mel Weiss, an attorney for the bond purchasers.

There were more than 100 defendants in the fraud lawsuit, but settlements left only 18 when the trial began Sept. 7.

A total of $591 million in settlements have been reached, plus $96 million in disputed insurance.