by
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action claiming that two provisions of the Florida Renewable Technologies and Energy Efficiency Act, which authorized the Nuclear Cost Recovery System (NCRS), were invalid under the Dormant Commerce Clause (DCC). Plaintiffs also claimed that the two provisions of the Act were preempted by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, and the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the DCC claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), because plaintiffs' interests as Florida electric utility customers were well beyond the zone the DCC was meant to protect. The court held that the Atomic Energy Act did not preempt the NCRS, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs leave to amend. View "Newton v. Duke Energy Florida, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Missouri Public Service Commission determining that the term “methodology” as used in Rule 20.093(1)(F) means not only the formula used to compute a sum (i.e., the variables to be used) but also the values of those variables. Staff of the Commission filed a complaint alleging that Union Electric Co. (Ameren) violated a rule of the Commission when it failed to use certain 2014 data to calculate Ameren’s net shared benefits under an energy-efficiency plan approved by the Commission in 2012. The Commission granted Staff’s motion for summary determination. Ameren appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the Commission, holding because the Commission’s erroneous determination of the meaning of term “methodology” played a central role in its decision, the matter must be remanded to the Commission for further proceedings. View "Missouri Public Service Commission v. Union Electric Co." on Justia Law

by
A devastating wildfire (the Butte Fire) swept through Calaveras and Amador counties in September 2015. The fire started when a tree came into contact with an overhead power line owned and operated by petitioners Pacific Gas and Electric Company and PG&E Corporation (together, PG&E or the company). Real parties in interest (plaintiffs) brought suit against PG&E, seeking punitive damages under Public Utilities Code section 2106 and Civil Code section 3294. PG&E sought summary adjudication of plaintiffs’ request for punitive damages under section 3294 only. The trial court denied the motion. PG&E thereafter sought writ relief from the trial court’s order. The Court of Appeal concluded there were no triable issues of fact which, if resolved in plaintiffs’ favor, could have subjected PG&E to punitive damages under section 3294. Accordingly, the Court granted the petition. View "Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether a utility company provided its customer adequate notice that natural-gas service to the customer’s property had been disconnected by hanging two notices on the front door of the property. The customer, who was not occupying the property, did not realize that the gas had been disconnected and did not discover the utility’s notices until the pipes froze and burst, causing damage. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) determined that the utility gave adequate notice of the disconnection by hanging tags on the property’s front door. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was nothing “unlawful or unreasonable” in the PUCO’s determination that the door-tag notice was adequate. View "Harris Design Services v. Columbia Gas of Ohio, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the Indiana Utility and Regulatory Commission (the Commission) in this appeal from the Commission’s decision authorizing a rate and charges increase lower than Hamilton Southeastern Utilities, Inc. (HSE) requested. HSE petitioned the Commission to approve an 8.42 percent increase in its charges. The Commission issued an order authorizing only a 1.17 percent increase in HSE’s rates and charges. HSE appealed, arguing that the Commission erred in excluding some expenses from its rates. The court of appeals granted HSE’s motion to dismiss the Commission, concluding that it was not a proper party to the appeal and then found that the Commission erred in excluding some expenses from HSE’s rates. The Supreme Court held (1) the Commission should not have been dismissed; (2) because the court of appeals found that the Commission acted arbitrarily in excluding SAMCO-related expenses from HSE’s rate calculation without giving the Commission an opportunity to defend its order, this issue must be reversed and remanded to the court of appeals with instructions to permit the Commission an opportunity to brief the issue; and (3) the remainder of the court of appeals’ opinion is summarily affirmed. View "Hamilton Southeastern Utilities, Inc. v. Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission" on Justia Law

by
At issue was the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s preapproval of approximately $20 million in infrastructure investments, for which the Commission authorized increases to NIPSCO Industrial Group’s natural-gas rates under the mechanism implemented by the so-called “TDSIC” statute. Under the TDSIC statute, a utility can seek regulatory approval of a seven-year plan that designates eligible improvements followed by periodic petitions to adjust rates automatically as approved investments are completed. Some of the largest customers of NIPSCO, an energy utility with more than 800,000 customers in northern Indiana, opposed NIPSCO’s entitlement to favorable rate treatment under the TDSIC statute on the grounds that the disputed projects did not comply with the statute’s requirements. The Commission approved various categories of improvements but did not designate those improvements with specificity. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s order in part, holding (1) the TDSIC statute permits periodic rate increases only for specific projects a utility designates, and the Commission approves, at the outset in a utility’s seven-year-plan and not in later proceedings involving periodic updates; and (2) the Commission’s approval of “broad categories of unspecific projects defeats the purpose of having a ‘plan.’” View "NIPSCO Industrial Group v. Northern Public Service Co." on Justia Law

by
Amy Cazier and four other consumers of retail electrical service brought this putative class action against Georgia Power Company, asserting that Georgia Power for several years has collected municipal franchise fees from customers in amounts exceeding those approved by the Public Service Commission, and sought to recover the excess fees for themselves and a class of Georgia Power customers. The Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs were not required to exhaust administrative remedies before bringing their putative class action. The Georgia Supreme Court found no reversible error in the appellate court's judgment and affirmed. View "Georgia Power Company v. Cazier" on Justia Law

by
After Old Dominion found that its operational costs during the January 2014 polar vortex outstripped the amounts it could charge for electricity under the governing tariff, it asked the Commission to waive provisions of the governing tariff retroactively so that it could recover its costs. The DC Circuit denied Old Dominion's petition for review of the Commission's denial of Old Dominion's request based on the ground that such retroactive charges would violate the filed rate doctrine and the rule against retroactive ratemaking. In this case, the court afforded the Commission's interpretation of the filed tariff and the PJM Operating Agreement substantial deference where there was no dispute that the PJM Tariff's filed rate did not allow the cost recovery that Old Dominion sought. The court also denied the motion of Independent Market Monitor to intervene, but accorded it amicus curiae status. View "Old Dominion Electric Cooperative v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit denied Duke's petition for review of the Commission's denial of Duke's complaint against PJM under the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 825e. To prepare for a bitterly cold day during the January 2014 polar vortex, Duke purchased expensive natural gas which it ended up not needing. Duke then claimed that PJM, its regional transmission organization, directed it to purchase the gas and that the governing tariff provided for indemnification. The court held that the Commission's finding that PJM never directed Duke to buy gas was supported by substantial evidence on the record. Therefore, the court had no need to address Duke's remaining argument that, had such a directive been issued, the tariff would have authorized indemnification. View "Duke Energy Corp. v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit denied the Arkansas Commission's petition for review of a final FERC order. The FERC order held that an operating company withdrawing from a multi-state energy system must continue to share the proceeds of a pre-departure settlement with the other member companies. The court held that FERC had a lawful basis to order the sharing of the benefits of the settlement and was reasoned in its allocation methodology. Therefore, FERC's order for Entergy Arkansas to share the Union Pacific Settlement benefits and its method for allocating the settlement was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. View "Arkansas Public Service Comm. v. FERC" on Justia Law