Justia Utilities Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court affirming Defendant's magistrate court conviction for operating an onsite wastewater system without a permit, holding that the City's ordinance as applied to Defendant was not an ex post facto law.Defendant was convicted for failure to obtain a permit in violation of Rapid City Municipal Code (RCMC) 13.20.800. On appeal, Defendant argued that RCMC 13.20.800 violated the ex post facto clauses of the state and federal constitutions, was preempted by state administrative rules, and exceeded Rapid City's authority since Defendant lived outside of the city's limits. The circuit court affirmed the conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City's sewerage permit ordinance was not an ex post facto law because it punished Defendant for conduct occurring after the ordinance was enacted; (2) RCMC 13.20.800 does not conflict with state administrative regulations; and (3) there was no merit to Defendant's argument that the City lacked authority to enforce the ordinance beyond its municipal boundaries. View "City Of Rapid City v. Schaub" on Justia Law

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Black Hills Power, Inc. (BHP), a public utility in South Dakota, filed an application to increase electric rates with the South Dakota Public Utility Commission. Black Hills Industrial Intervenors (BHII) filed a motion to intervene in BHP’s rate-increase application, which the Commission granted. The parties agreed to a settlement stipulation regarding the increase in December 2014. BHP, however, sought to amend the stipulation in February 2015. The Commission granted the amended settlement stipulation and approved the rate increase. BHII appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission properly ruled that BHP could submit adjustments to the settlement stipulation after the filing of the initial application; (2) the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in its consideration of pension expenses; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support the Commission’s inclusion of portions of BHP’s incentive-compensation plan. View "In re Application of Black Hills Power, Inc." on Justia Law

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Montana Dakota Utilities Co. and Otter Tail Power Company (together, Applicants) applied to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) for a permit to construct a high-voltage electrical transmission line. Applicant’s project would cross one part of Gerald Pesall’s farm. Pesall intervened and was granted party status. Pesall objected to the project, arguing that excavating and moving soil to construct the project could unearth and spread a crop parasite. The Commission granted the permit subject to conditions, including a condition to identify and mitigate the potential parasite problem. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no abuse of discretion in the Commission’s decision to grant a conditional permit rather than requiring reapplication; (2) the permit condition relating to the parasites did not constitute an improper delegation of the Commission’s authority to a private party; and (3) the Commission timely rendered complete findings on the permit application. View "Pesall v. Montana Dakota Utils., Co." on Justia Law