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Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, Georgia, sued telephone companies for their failure to collect and remit to the Counties a charge imposed on subscribers to offset the cost of 911 services. The telephone companies raised various defenses to the Counties’ suits, including that the 911 charge was a tax that the Counties were not allowed to collect by a lawsuit like this one. The trial court rejected that argument and allowed the cases to proceed, but the Court of Appeals vacated that aspect of the trial court’s ruling and remanded because further development of the record was needed to determine whether the charge was a tax. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the charge was indeed a tax regardless of more factual development, and the Counties lacked legal authority to collect that tax in this lawsuit. View "BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC v. Cobb County et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the tax court concluding that the Commissioner of Revenue had overvalued Enbridge Energy, LP’s (EELP) pipeline system for 2013, 2014, and 2015 and issuing a new valuation for all three years, holding that, contrary to the tax court’s conclusion, the tax court is bound by Minnesota Rule 8100, an administrative rule regarding ad valorem taxes for utilities, when valuing a pipeline system and in allocating system unit value. Specifically at issue on appeal was whether the tax court erred in concluding that it is not bound by Rule 8100 when valuing a pipeline system. In reversing, the Supreme Court held that the tax court must follow Rule 8100 on how utilities, including pipelines, should be valued for tax purposes, and the tax court erred by concluding otherwise. View "Commissioner of Revenue v. Enbridge Energy, LP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the report and order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) denying the Town of Portsmouth’s request for a discounted rate for ferry service from the Town of Bristol to Prudence Island for municipal vehicles and passengers performing essential government services, holding that the PUC did not err in denying the Town’s request for a discounted rate. On appeal, the Town argued that the PUC’s express statutory authority and implied powers grant it the right to order the Town’s requested rates without needing the permission of the entity it regulates, i.e., A&R Marine Corp., d/b/a Prudence & Bay Islands Transport. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) before the PUC would have been legally authorized to act upon a discounted ferry rate for the Town, it would have been necessary, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 39-2-5(2), for A&R Marine to propose such a discounted rate; and (2) because A&R never made such a proposal, the PUC’s report and order is affirmed. View "In re A&R Marine Corp." on Justia Law

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From November 2004 to January 2011, The Door Shop, Inc., utilized $36,081.86 of electricity from Alcorn County Electric Power Association (ACE). But because of a billing error, it was charged only $10,396.28. Upon discovering the error, ACE sought to recover the $25,658.58 difference via supplemental billing. The Door Shop refused to pay, which prompted ACE to file suit. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that as a matter of law, the Door Shop had to pay, and affirmed the circuit court's order. View "The Door Shop, Inc. v. Alcorn County Electric Power Association" on Justia Law

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Kiki Leslie Tidwell appealed an Idaho Public Utility Commission order denying her request for intervenor funding. The underlying administrative proceeding involved an application by the Idaho Power Company for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct a high-voltage electric transmission line in Blaine County. The Commission granted Tidwell’s petition to intervene in December 2016. In September 2017, Tidwell submitted a request for intervenor funding, which the Commission denied as untimely. Tidwell filed a petition for reconsideration, which the Commission also denied. Finding the Commission's denial of Tidwell's petition for reconsideration not "unreasonable, unlawful, erroneous or not in conformity with the law," the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho Power and IPUC v. Tidwell" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, owner of a number of electric generation resources in New England, challenged FERC's adoption of changes to the Transmission, Markets, and Services Tariff proposed by the Independent System Operator for New England (ISO-NE). The DC Circuit held that the parties' dispute may be illusory and thus remanded the record for the agency to sort out what it really means. In this case, at oral argument, counsel for FERC suggested that FERC interpreted the tariff rules in a way that largely squares with Exelon's view of its rights. View "Exelon Corp. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The issue presented to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in this appeal centered on whether producers of natural gas from certain vertical wells were subject to assessment of a yearly impact fee established by Chapter 23 of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act (“Act 13”). The vertical wells that at issue used the hydraulic fracturing process ("fracking") to extract natural gas through a vertical well bore from Marcellus Shale. Specifically, the issue centered on whether an impact fee would be assessed whenever a vertical well’s production exceeded an average of 90,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day for even one month of the year, or whether the well must exceed this production threshold in every month of the year, for the fee to be imposed. After careful review, the Supreme Court concluded that, under the relevant provisions of Act 13, the impact fee would be imposed on such wells if their production exceeds 90,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day for even one month of the year, as found by the Public Utility Commission (“PUC”). Therefore, the Court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s order, which had reversed the PUC; the PUC's order was reinstated. View "PA Independent Oil & Gas Assoc. v. PUC" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether Intermessage Communications and members of a proposed class of retail cellular-telephone-service subscribers seeking to recover treble damages under Ohio Rev. Code 4905.61 for regulatory violations related to the wholesale cellular-service market committed in the 1990s, as determined by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), had standing to bring this action. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Eighth District Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s decision to certify the class and dismissed this matter, holding that Intermessage and the proposed class of retail cellular-service subscribers lacked standing to bring an action pursuant to section 4905.61 because the language of the statute limits recovery of treble damages to the “person, firm, or corporation” directly injured as a result of the “violation, failure, or omission” found by the PUCO. View "Satterfield v. Ameritech Mobile Communications, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Lakes Region Water Company, Inc. (Lakes Region), appealed a New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (Commission) order requiring Lakes Region to refund a second base charge it had imposed on its customer, Robert Mykytiuk, and prohibiting it from “imposing such charges unless and until they are included in the company’s tariff.” Lakes Region learned that Mykytiuk had constructed an additional structure on his property. To supply the new structure with water, Mykytiuk tapped into his primary residence’s service connection. Shortly after learning of the new construction, Lakes Region sent Mykytiuk an application for new service for the additional structure and requested to inspect the water service connection. Despite concluding that the new structure required a separate service connection, Lakes Region chose not to install one at that time. Rather, Lakes Region began billing Mykytiuk for an additional “base charge,” which referred to the “[m]inimum charge per customer per quarter” scheduled in Lakes Region’s tariff. Mykytiuk complained to the Commission, asserting that he was not required to have a second service connection. The Commission treated the matter as a formal complaint and held a hearing on the merits. At the hearing, Mykytiuk argued that Lakes Region could not charge him a separate base charge or require him to install a separate meter for the additional structure because neither was provided for in Lakes Region’s tariff. Finding no reversible error in the Commission’s order, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Appeal of Lakes Region Water Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Public Utilities Commission that approved a charge referred to as the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Rider as a component of Ohio Power Company’s third electric-security plan (ESP), holding that the order was not unlawful or unreasonable. Specifically, the Court held (1) the PPA Rider did not recover unlawful transition revenue; (2) the challenges to the Commission’s approval of the PPA Rider under the ESP statute, Ohio Rev. Code 4928.143, were without merit; (3) the challenges to the Commission’s approval of the joint stipulation to resolve the issues in the PPA Rider case failed; and (4) the Commission complied with Ohio Rev. Code 4903.09 when it approved the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation-only PPA Rider. View "In re Application of Ohio Power Co." on Justia Law