Justia Utilities Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
by
The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal from an order of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) declining to open a formal investigation into a water bill issued to General Marine Construction Corp. by the Portland Water District (PWD), holding that General Marine's appeal was not taken from a final decision of the Commission pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 35-A, 1320(1).At issue was a $15,804 "make-up bill" that the PWD issued to General Marine for unauthorized and unmilled water usage. General Marine filed a complaint challenging the bill. The Commission's Consumer Assistance and Safety Division (CASD) concluded that the PWD had complied with PUC rules in issuing the make-up bill. The Commission upheld CASD's decision. General Marine appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the PUC did not issue a "final decision" at the conclusion of the statutorily-authorized informal process; and (2) therefore, section 1320(1) did not authorize General Marine's appeal. View "General Marine Construction Corp. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Public Utilities Commission dismissing Appellants' complaint alleging that Central Maine Power Company (CMP) committed unreasonable practices by delivering notices threatening disconnection during the November 2020 to April 2021 winter season during the COVID-19 pandemic, holding that there was no error.Appellants filed a complaint with the Commission alleging that they were threatened with disconnection notices because they were behind in payments to CMP. Appellants alleged that by sending notices threatening disconnection, when COVID-19 case numbers were rising, amounted to an "unreasonable" practice by CMP. The Commission dismissed the complaint as being "without merit." The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Commission did not err or abuse its discretion in dismissing the complaint based on its previous determination that Appellants' allegations were without merit. View "Gamage v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Maine Public Utilities Commission granting Central Maine Power Company's (CMP) petition for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the construction and operation of the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) project, holding that the Commission followed the proper procedure and that there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the Commission's findings.In 2017, CMP filed a petition with the Commission for a CPCN for the NECEC project, a 145-mile transmission line. The Commission voted to grant CMP a CPCN for the construction and operation of the NECEC project. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not commit legal error when it decided that CMP was not required to file the results of a third-party investigation into nontransmission alternatives; (2) the Commission did not err in its construction and application of Me. Rev. Stat. 35-A, 3132(6); and (3) the Commission did not abuse its discretion in approving a stipulation between the parties requiring the project to provide myriad benefits to ratepayers and the State as conditions to the recommended Commission approval of the stipulated findings and issuance of the CPCN. View "NextEra Energy Resources, LLC v. Maine Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal challenging the promulgation of a final rule by the Public Utilities Commission, holding that this Court does not have original jurisdiction over appeals from administrative rulemaking proceedings.Appellants, including the Conservation Law Foundation, the Industrial Energy Consumers’ Group, ReVision Energy, LLC, and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, argued, among other things, that, in promulgating the rule at issue, the Commission violated several provisions of the Maine Administrative Procedure Act, that the rule violated statutory ban on exit fees, and that the rule unjustly discriminated. The Commission argued that Me. Rev. Stat. 35-A, 1320 does not authorize appeals to the Law Court when the Commission acts pursuant to its rulemaking authority. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding that any appeal from Commission rulemaking proceedings must be brought originally in the Superior Court. View "Conservation Law Foundation v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed an order of the Public Utilities Commission granting in part and denying in part a petition for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to operate as a competitive local exchange carrier. Enhanced Communications of Northern New England, Inc. appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) after after finding that Enhanced met all three criteria set forth in section 4(A) of chapter 280 of the Commission’s regulations, the Commission could nonetheless deny Enhanced’s petition for a CPCN on public interest grounds; and (2) the Commission lawfully denied Enhanced’s petition on public interest grounds. View "Enhanced Communications of Northern New England, Inc. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the Maine Public Utilities Commission approving a stipulation regarding Efficiency Maine Trust’s Third Triennial Plan for energy efficiency, holding that the Commission did not err in interpreting and applying the relevant statutes.The Conservation Law Foundation appealed from the Commission’s order approving the stipulation, arguing that the order and the terms of the stipulation disregarded statutory mandates set forth in the Efficiency Maine Trust Act. See Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, 10101-10123. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the Commission’s order and the stipulation did not violate statutory mandates for electric energy efficiency or the statutory mandate to assess each natural gas utility an amount to capture all maximum achievable cost-effective energy efficiency savings. View "Conservation Law Foundation v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

by
Ed Friedman, joined by others, filed a complaint raising issues regarding the health effects Central Maine Power Company’s (CMP) advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system. After conducting an investigation, the Maine Public Utilities Commission concluded that AMI does not pose a credible threat of harm to the health and safety of CMP’s customers. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission applied the correct credible threat standard; (2) the Commission’s determination was supported by substantial evidence; and (3) the two Commissioners serving on the panel unequivocally concurred in the decision despite their differing rationales. View "Friedman v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n" on Justia Law