Justia Utilities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Energy, Oil and Gas
Appalachian Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm’n
In this appeal, Appalachian Power Company (APCO) sought rate adjustment clause recovery of $33.3 million in environmental compliance costs that the State Corporation Commission denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded, holding (1) APCO was entitled to a rate adjustment clause for recovery of actual costs it directly incurred for environmental compliance in 2009 and 2010 but did not recover through its base rates, and the portion of the Commission's decision denying recovery of environmental compliance costs on the basis that those costs were connected with projects included in APCO's base rates which APCO had the opportunity to recover was reversed; and (2) the portion of the Commission's decision denying APCO recovery of environmental compliance costs alleged to be embedded in the capacity equalization charges APCO paid to its affiliates in 2009 and 2010 was affirmed. Remanded. View "Appalachian Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law
Va. Elec. & Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm’n
These consolidated appeals arose from a final determination of the State Corporation Commission in a mandated biennial review of the rates, terms, and conditions for the provision of generation, distribution and transmission services of an electric utility. As pertinent here, commencing in 2011, the Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act required the Commission to conduct biennial reviews of an electric utility's performance during the two successive twelve-month periods immediately prior to such reviews pursuant to Va. Code Ann. 56-585.1(A). At issue in this appeal was whether in the 2011 biennial review of the performance of Virginia Electric and Power Company in the 2009-2010 test period the Commission erred in determining that the utility's authorized fair rate of return on common equity of 10.9 percent would apply to the entire 2011-2012 test period in the next biennial review in 2013. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's construction of Code 56-585.1 was based upon the proper application of legal principles, and the Commission did not abuse the discretion afforded to it under that statute. View "Va. Elec. & Power Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n" on Justia Law
Friedman v. Public Utilities Comm’n
Ed Friedman and others (collectively, Friedman) appealed the Maine Public Utilities Commission's dismissal of their complaint against Central Maine Power Company (CMP) regarding CMP's use of smart-meter technology. Friedman also appealed the Commission's dismissal of those portions of the complaint that were directed at the Commission and raised constitutional concerns regarding orders previously issued by the Commission. Friedman asserted, among other issues, that the Commission erred because its dismissal of his complaint ignored the Commission's statutory mandate to ensure the delivery of safe and reasonable utility services. The Commission and CMP contended that the complaint was properly dismissed in all respects. Because the Supreme Court agreed with Friedman that the Commission should not have dismissed the portion of the complaint against CMP addressing health and safety issues, the Court vacated that portion of the judgment and otherwise affirmed.View "Friedman v. Public Utilities Comm'n" on Justia Law
Wis. Indus. Energy Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm’n
At issue in this case was whether the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) correctly concluded the Wisconsin Power and Light's (WPL) application to construct a large, out-of-state, electric generating facility was properly reviewed under Wis. Stat. 196.49(3), the certificate of authority (CA) statute, or whether Wis. Stat. 196.491(3), the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) statute, should have been applied. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order, which affirmed the PSC's interim order, holding that the PSC's interpretation of the CPCN law as applying exclusively to in-state facilities and its decision to analyze WPL's application under the CA law were reasonable, and there was not a more reasonable interpretation of the CA and CPCN laws.View "Wis. Indus. Energy Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n" on Justia Law
NE Energy Partners, LLC v. Mahar Reg’l Sch. Dist.
The Regional School District (Mahar), entered into a price watch agreement with Northeast Energy Partners, a licensed broker of energy services based in Connecticut, pursuant to which Northeast would negotiate and secure contracts for the provision of Mahar's electricity from energy suppliers. Mahar did not enter into the agreement to obtain Northeast's services pursuant to the competitive bidding procedures contained in G.L. c. 30B. When Mahar questioned the validity of the agreement, Northeast sought a declaratory judgment that the agreement is valid and enforceable because, under G.L. c. 30B, 1 (b ) (33), the agreement is exempt from the competitive solicitation and bidding procedures set forth in G.L. c. 30B. The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of Northeast, holding that a contract between a school district and an energy broker for procurement of contracts for electricity is exempt from the requirements of G.L. [c.] 30B as a contract for 'energy or energy related services' pursuant to G.L. c. 30B, 1 (b ) (33). View "NE Energy Partners, LLC v. Mahar Reg'l Sch. Dist." on Justia Law
Nextera Energy Res., LLC v. Iowa Utils. Bd.
NextEra Energy Resources, LLC appealed the Iowa Utility Board's decision to grant advance ratemaking principles to MidAmerican Energy Company for a proposed wind generation facility. The district court affirmed the Board. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board properly interpreted and applied Iowa Code 476.53; (2) substantial evidence supported the Board's findings; (3) Iowa Code 476.43 was not applicable to this ratemaking proceeding; and (4) section 476.53 as applied to a rate-regulated public utility that may compete in the wholesale energy market did not violate the Equal Protection clauses of the Iowa or U.S. Constitutions or the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.View "Nextera Energy Res., LLC v. Iowa Utils. Bd." on Justia Law
Covanta Maine, LLC v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n
Covanta Maine, LLC (Covanta), a subsidiary of Covanta Energy, appealed from orders of the Public Utilities Commission denying Covanta's requests for certification of two of its facilities as Class I new renewable resources. Covanta argued that the Commission erred by basing its conclusion that the facilities were not refurbished on the ratio of Covanta's expenditures in the facilities to the value of those facilities, and it therefore asserted that the Commission improperly denied certification of its two facilities. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Commission, holding that the Commission erred by establishing a requirement that the expenditures meet some minimum level that equals an unspecified percentage of the total value of the facility. Remanded. View "Covanta Maine, LLC v. Pub. Utils. Comm'n" on Justia Law
NSTAR Electric Co. vs. Dept. of Public Utilities
This case concerned the mechanics of NSTAR's, an electric distribution company, attempt to shift the recovery of one of it supply-related costs, supply-related bad debt costs, from its distribution rates to its supply rates. NSTAR filed a petition, through which it sought to begin recovery of its supply-related bad debt costs through its supply rates rather than, as before, through its distribution rates. Not withstanding that contention, the department conditioned its approval of NSTAR's petition on a corresponding reduction in NSTAR's distribution rates. The court concluded that the department had failed to provide an adequate statement of its reasons for imposing the condition. Specifically, the court was unable to determine whether this aspect of the department's order rested on a determination that NSTAR did not follow the correct procedural path in removing supply-related bad debt costs from its distribution rates, or rather on a determination that NSTAR did not in fact remove such costs from its distribution rates at all. The court concluded further that certain of the department's factual determinations were not adequately supported by subsidiary findings and that an aspect of the department's analysis was legally erroneous. Accordingly, the department's order was to be vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings.View "NSTAR Electric Co. vs. Dept. of Public Utilities" on Justia Law
In re Application of Duke Energy Ohio, Inc.
Duke Energy Ohio, Inc. sought to recover over $30 million for the costs of restoring its system following the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike. The Public Utilities Commission allowed Duke to recover roughly half that amount, finding that several of Duke's requests lacked adequate supporting evidence. Duke appealed, raising five propositions of law, all variations on the theme that the Commission's order lacked record support. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission's finding reducing the amount that Duke could recover because it found substantial problems with the supporting evidence was confirmed by the record; and (2) each of Duke's arguments lacked merit. View "In re Application of Duke Energy Ohio, Inc." on Justia Law
Blue Ridge Envtl. Defense League v. Commonwealth
At issue in this case was whether the court of appeals erred in (1) reversing a circuit court's judgment and applying the arbitrary and capricious standard of review to the State Water Control Board's decision to reissue a Virginia pollutant discharge elimination system permit to Virginia Electric and Power Company for its nuclear power station; and (2) reversing the circuit court and affirming the Board's determination that the discharge of heated water from the station into a waste heat treatment facility, classified as a "waste treatment facility" under state and federal regulations, did not require a separate discharge permit. For the reasons stated in Commonwealth v. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Inc., the Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.View "Blue Ridge Envtl. Defense League v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law