Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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This case concerns a scheme of planning, cost allocation, and regulation imposed by FERC on EP Electric and the Intervenor electricity providers. EP Electric appealed from three decisions in which the Commission reviewed and required revisions to certain compliance filing that EP Electric and other utilities filed with FERC pursuant to Order No. 1000. Order No. 1000 is FERC’s rule regulating regional transmission planning and cost allocation by public utilities, also known as “jurisdictional utilities.” The court concluded that the Commission acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its mandates regarding the role of non-jurisdictional utilities in cost allocation and regional planning in the WestConnect region. Therefore, the court granted the petitions for review in part. The court vacated the Commission's Compliance Orders on these issues for further explanation and proceedings. The court denied review or dismissed in all other respects because EP Electric's remaining challenges to FERC's actions fail. View "El Paso Electric Co. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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This dispute arose under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-617, 92 Stat. 3117. At issue is whether the district court abused its discretion when it entered an order indefinitely staying this proceeding to allow the Commission to act on an administrative complaint filed by Occidental against a non-party to this action, which largely concerns the same issues. The court concluded that, under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, a district court with subject matter jurisdiction may, under appropriate circumstances, defer to another forum, such as an administrative agency, which also has non-exclusive jurisdiction, based on its determination that the benefits of obtaining aid from that other forum outweigh the need for expeditious litigation. The court concluded that it has appellate jurisdiction under Hines v. D'Artois because Hines remains good law and this case is sufficiently close to the facts of Hines to give the court appellate jurisdiction under the “effectively out of court” rule. The court also concluded that, given that all parties agree it could take years for FERC to resolve the Integration Complaint, a deadline will give FERC a reasonable opportunity to act without the costs inherent in an indefinite delay. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's stay order and remanded with instructions. View "Occidental Chemical Corp. v. Louisiana Public Service Comm'n" on Justia Law