Justia Utilities Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's grant of summary judgment for the City of Concord and dismissing Plaintiffs' claims of illegal fees, holding that the language of a series of local acts unambiguously granted the City of Concord the authority to levy water and wastewater connection fees against Plaintiffs for services to be furnished.In 2004, Concord adopted an ordinance requiring residential subdivision developers to pay fees for water and wastewater service before a subdivision plat would be accepted for recording. In 2016, the ordinance was updated so that the fees were due at the time of acquiring a permit. Plaintiffs, developers who paid water and wastewater connection fees to the City, brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that the fees were ultra vires because the City could not collect fees prior to furnishing sewer and water services to Plaintiffs' subdivisions. The trial court granted summary judgment for the City. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact with respect to the City's legislative authority to charge fees for services "to be furnished" by the City. View "JVC Enterprises, LLC v. City of Concord" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part orders entered by the North Carolina Utilities Commission addressing applications filed by Duke Energy Progress, LLC and Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, holding that the Commission erred by rejecting an equitable sharing proposal without properly considering and making findings and conclusions concerning "all other material facts," as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. 62-133(d).Various interveners representing the utilities' consumers appealed the Commission's orders, challenging the lawfulness of the Commission's decisions concerning the extent to which the utilities were entitled to reflect costs associated with the storage and disposal of ash resulting from electricity production in coal-fired electric generating units in the cost of service used to set the utilities' North Carolina retail rates. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the Commission (1) did not err by allowing the inclusion of a majority to the utilities' coal ash costs in the cost of service used for establishing North Carolina retail rates and in increasing Duke Energy Carolinas' residential basic facilities charge; but (2) erred in rejecting an equitable sharing proposal without making the statutorily required findings and conclusions. View "State ex rel. Utilities Commission v. Stein" on Justia Law

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In 2013, legislation was enacted requiring the City of Asheville to involuntarily transfer the assets it uses to operate a public water system to a newly-created metropolitan water and sewerage district. The City filed a complaint and motion seeking injunctive relief, alleging that the involuntary transfer provisions of the legislation were unconstitutional. The trial court concluded that the involuntary transfer violated various provisions of the North Carolina Constitution and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the legislation. The court of appeals reversed, in part, the trial court’s order and remanded to the trial court for the entry of summary judgment in favor of the State. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the challenged legislation constitutes a prohibited local act relating to health and sanitation in violation of Article II, Section 24(1)(a) of the North Carolina Constitution. View "City of Asheville v. State" on Justia Law