Justia Utilities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Energy, Oil and Gas
In re Application of Minden
The City of Minden filed an application to construct a subtransmission line with the Nebraska Power Review Board (Board). Southern Public Power District (Southern) objected to the application. The Board denied the application, finding that Minden's proposal was not the most economical and feasible means of supplying electrical services and also that its proposal would unnecessarily duplicate Southern's existing line. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was evidence to support the Board's decision that Southern could more economically and feasibly transmit Minden's necessary power; and (2) the record showed sufficient evidence to support the Board's decision that Minden's line would be unnecessarily duplicative of Southern's line, and that decision was not arbitrary or unreasonable. View "In re Application of Minden" on Justia Law
Central Neb. Pub. Power v. Jeffrey Lake Dev.
A public power and irrigation district (District) filed an action against a development and other sublessees (collectively, Development) to quiet title to land owned by District and leased by Development. Development filed motions to dismiss the complaint, arguing that District's complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be grante. The district court sustained the motions and overruled Development's motion for attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting Development's motions to dismiss because (1) the allegations in District's complaint, taken as true, were plausible and thus were sufficient to suggest that District had presented a justiciable controversy, and (2) the motions to dismiss filed in this case provided no notice that Development was asserting the affirmative defenses of judicial estoppel, collateral estoppel and res judicata. Remanded. View "Central Neb. Pub. Power v. Jeffrey Lake Dev." on Justia Law
Souther LNG, Inc. v. MacGinnitie
Appellant contended that it was a "public utility" under OCGA 48-1-2 and, as such, was required under OCGA 48-5-511 to make an annual tax return of its Georgia property to the Georgia Revenue Commissioner rather than to the Chatham County tax authorities. Appellant filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment and for writ of mandamus in superior court, seeking to have the trial court recognize appellant as a "public utility" and to order appellee to accept appellant's annual ad valorem property tax return. The trial court granted appellee's motion to dismiss the complaint based on appellant's failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the doctrine of sovereign immunity was applicable to the claims. The court reversed and held that it need not address whether sovereign immunity would act as a bar to appellant's declaratory action, as it was clear that, if the declaratory action were barred by sovereign immunity, appellant's mandamus action would still remain viable.View "Souther LNG, Inc. v. MacGinnitie" on Justia Law
Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co. v. Dept. of Public Utilities
Fitchburg appealed from a ruling of the department requiring it to reimburse its customers over $4.6 million in gas supply costs incurred during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 purchasing seasons. The court concluded that the department's determination that Fitchburg's purchasing plans required preapproval was erroneous, as the plans incorporated only traditional risk management techniques that had previously never been subject to the department's preapproval. Penalizing Fitchburg for failing to seek preapproval, when such preapproval was never required, exceeded the department's authority and amounted to an error of law. With respect to the allegedly imprudent purchases, the court agreed with the department that one of the purchases at issue was unreasonable and imprudent, but held that the department's findings of imprudence with regard to the balance of the purchases in 2007 and 2008 were not supported by substantial evidence.View "Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co. v. Dept. of Public Utilities" on Justia Law
Voices of the Wetlands v. CA State Water Resources Control Bd., et al.
Plaintiff, an environmental organization, filed this administrative mandamus action to challenge the issuance of a federally required permit authorizing the Moss Landing Powerplant (MLPP) to draw cooling water from the adjacent Moss Landing Harbor and Elkhorn Slough. This case presented issues concerning the technological and environmental standards, and the procedures for administrative and judicial review, that apply when a thermal powerplant, while pursuing the issuance or renewal of a cooling water intake permit from a regional board, also sought necessary approval from the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission), of a plan to add additional generating units to the plant, with related modifications to the cooling intake system. The court held that the superior court had jurisdiction to entertain the administrative mandamus petition here under review. The court also held that the trial court erred when it deferred a final judgment, ordered an interlocutory remand to the board for further "comprehensive" examination of that issue, then denied mandamus after determining that the additional evidence and analysis considered by the board on remand supported the board's reaffirmed findings. The court further held that recent Supreme Court authority confirmed that, when applying federal Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1326(b), standards for the issuance of this permit, the Regional Water Board properly utilized cost-benefit analysis. The court declined to address several other issues discussed by the parties. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.View "Voices of the Wetlands v. CA State Water Resources Control Bd., et al." on Justia Law
AEP Texas Central Co. v. Public Utility Comm’n of Texas, et al.
This appeal challenged a final order of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) in a true-up proceeding under Chapter 39 of the Utilities Code. AEP Texas Central Co. (AEP), a transmission and distribution utility, and CPL Retail Energy, L.P., its affiliated retail electric provider, initiated a proceeding under section 39.262 to finalize stranded costs and other true-up amounts and the state, several municipalities, and several other parties who were consumers of electricity or represent consumer interests (collectively, consumers), intervened in the proceeding. The issues before the court concern market value, net book value (NBV), and the capacity auction true-up. The court held that where, as here, the utility managed to sell its stake in a nuclear plant, the court saw no error in using the sale of assets method, which was, if anything, the preferred method for valuing generation assets. The court also held that it saw no error in PUC's approach where the interest rate AEP received on its stranded costs was grossed up. The court further held that section 39.262 unambiguously specified that the statutory capacity auction price, not some other blended price the PUC found more appropriate, must be used in calculating the capacity auction true-up amount. On remand, the PUC must recalculate the capacity auction true-up in a manner consistent with the court's opinion in State v. PUC, rather than relying on the proxy price it selected in the true-up proceeding. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, affirming in part and reversing in part.View "AEP Texas Central Co. v. Public Utility Comm'n of Texas, et al." on Justia Law
In re Review of Proposed Town of New Shoreham Project
The state public utilities commission approved a power-purchase agreement (PPA) between National Grid and Deepwater Wind, the respondents. Under the PPA, Deepwater Wind agreed to construct an offshore wind farm in state waters and then sell the generated electricity to National Grid, a statewide power distributor. National Grid, in turn, pledged to purchase the generated electricity and apportion the cost of building the wind farm to in-state ratepayers over the course of the twenty-year contract. Dissatisfied with National Grid's cost-distribution plan, petitioners Toray Plastics and Polytop challenged the commission's assessment that the PPA met all statutory preconditions for approval. The Supreme Court affirmed the commission's decision, concluding that the commission accurately interpreted and applied the law by making findings that were lawful and reasonable, fairly and substantially supported by legal evidence, and sufficiently specific for the Court to ascertain that the evidence upon which the commission based its findings reasonably supported the result.View "In re Review of Proposed Town of New Shoreham Project" on Justia Law