Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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In 2000, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio first approved a corporate separation plan for Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company, now known as Duke Energy Ohio, Inc. Over the next decade, the Commission approved a series of amendments to the plan. In 2014, Duke filed an application for approval of a fourth amended corporate separation plan, which sought approval to commence offering nonelectric products and services to its customers. The Commission approved Duke’s application. Interstate Gas Supply, Inc. appealed, arguing, inter alia, that the Commission’s orders violated Ohio Rev. Code 4903.09, a statute requiring the Commission to file written opinions setting forth the reasons for its decision in all contested cases. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that the Commission violated section 4903.09 by failing to set forth in its order its reasons in sufficient details to enable the Supreme Court to determine how it reached its decision. Remanded. View "In re Application of Duke Energy Ohio, Inc., for Approval of its Fourth Amended Corporate Separation Plan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Utilities Law

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Plaintiff sustained injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident involving a Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) utility pole. Plaintiff and his wife sued CEI, FirstEnergy Service Company (First Energy), and their parent company (collectively, Defendants), asserting, inter alia, claims for negligence and qualified nuisance. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiffs on their qualified nuisance and loss of consortium claims but returned a verdict for CEI and FirstEnergy on the negligence claim. Defendants appealed, arguing that Turner v. Ohio Bell Tel. Co. provided an absolute bar to liability. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, as a matter of law, CEI and FirstEnergy could not be held liable under any theory of liability asserted by Plaintiffs. View "Link v. FirstEnergy Corp." on Justia Law

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The FirstEnergy Companies Ohio Edison Company, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, and Toledo Edison Company (collectively, FirstEnergy) submitted an application for an electric-security plan (ESP). The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved the application. After FirstEnergy began implementing the terms of the ESP, it filed an application to extend the plan and identified the changes it would make to the existing plan. The Commission approved the application. Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) and the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the record contained sufficient probative evidence to show that the Commission’s determination was not manifestly against the weight of the evidence or clearly unsupported by the record. View "In re Application of Ohio Edison Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant participated in a program called the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (“PIPP”) that provided assistance to low-income residential customers. Most PIPP customers pay a fixed percentage of their monthly income rather than the actual cost of service. Appellant later left PIPP but continued to receive gas service from Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio, Inc. at the standard rate. Appellant was reinstated in PIPP seven months after her departure. Vectren subsequently informed Appellant that she had to pay the difference between the charges she paid during the time she was not in the program and the monthly PIPP installment payments that would have been due had she remained in PIPP. Appellant filed a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission alleging that Vectren’s attempt to charge her for the missed PIPP installments was unlawful and unreasonable. The Commission found in favor of Vectren. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate that the Commission’s orders were unreasonable or unlawful. View "Toliver v. Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pilkington North America, Inc. entered into a social contract with Toledo Edison Company under which Toledo provided one of Pilkington’s facilities with discounted electric service. The Public Utilities Commission approved the special contract. Pilkington later filed a complaint alleging that Toledo Edison had unlawfully terminated the special contract. Five other companies that also had special contracts with the utility also filed complaints against Toledo Edison. The Commission consolidated the six complaints and dismissed them. With the exception of Pilkington, each of the industrial customers appealed the Commission’s decision. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s order, concluding that Toledo Edison had prematurely terminated the special contracts. Pilkington subsequently filed a Ohio R. Civ. P. 60(B) motion for relief from judgment with the Commission seeking relief from the Commission’s order dismissing its complaint and its order denying the application for rehearing that the other five complainants filed. The Commission denied Pilkington’s motion, concluding that Pilkington may not use Rule 60(B) as a substitute for appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Pilkington did not appeal the Commission’s adverse judgment, that judgment is final, and res judicata precludes the use of Rule 60(B) to obtain relief from that final judgment. View "In re Complaint of Pilkington N. Am., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (the “Sewer District”) filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that it had the authority to implement a regional stormwater-management program and to impose fees to be charged to landowners within the Sewer District. The trial court declared that the Sewer District had authority under Ohio Rev. Code 6119 and its charter to enact a regional stormwater-management program. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Sewer District has authority to implement a regional stormwater-management program and to charge fees for that program. View "Northeast Ohio Reg’l Sewer Dist. v. Bath Twp." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an order of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio authorizing the East Ohio Gas Company (“Dominion”) to discontinue the availability of the “standard choice offer” for its nonresidential customers. In so doing, the Commission took another step toward deregulation of the company’s “commodity-sales services.” To take this step, the Commission modified one of its previous orders. Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy (OPAE), an advocacy group representing its members who are nonresidential customers of Dominion, appealed, arguing that the Commission lacked statutory authority and an evidentiary basis to modify its previous order and also erred in adopting a stipulation that OPAE did not sign. The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s order, holding (1) Dominion was entitled to a modification of an exemption order under Ohio Rev. Code 4929.08(A); and (2) the order did not violate Ohio Rev. Code 4903.09. View "In re Application to Modify the Exemption Granted to E. Ohio Gas Co." on Justia Law

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved a mechanism called a phase-in recovery rider (PIRR) for Ohio Power Company to recover fuel costs that were incurred under Ohio Power’s first electric-security plan (ESP) but were deferred for future collection. In approving Ohio Power’s PIRR application, PUCO modified part of the portion of its order approving Ohio Power’s first ESP that established the carrying-charge rate. The end result was the reduction of Ohio Power’s recovery of carrying charges by more than $130 million. The Supreme Court reversed PUCO’s order insofar as it reduced the carrying-charge rate, holding that the order violated Ohio Rev. Code 4928.143(C)(2)(a) by depriving Ohio Power of its right to withdraw the modified ESP. Remanded. View "In re Application of Ohio Power Co." on Justia Law

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Upon its implementation of an automated-meter-reading (“AMR”) program, the East Ohio Gas Company, d/b/a Dominion East Ohio (“Dominion”), sought to recover costs associated with its AMR program. The Public Utilities Commission (“Commission”) reduced Dominion’s proposed customer charge from $0.54 per customer per month to $0.42 per customer per month because Dominion had allegedly failed to timely implement the AMR program. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding that the Commission’s order was substantively unreasonable because its reduction of Dominion’s AMR charge was not rationally tied to Dominion’s alleged failure to meet certain deadlines. Remanded.View "In re Application of E. Ohio Gas Co." on Justia Law

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Buckeye Energy Brokers, a certified provider of competitive retail electric service a competitive retail natural-gas service, filed an amended complaint with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio against Palmer Energy Company, an energy-management and consulting firm. Buckeye claimed that Palmer, one of its alleged competitors, violated Ohio Rev. Code 4928.08 and 4929.20 by acting without a certificate as a broker in arranging for the supply of competitive retail electric and natural-gas services in Ohio. The Commission held that Buckeye failed to prove its allegations, concluding that Palmer had provided services to clients as a consultant, not as a broker. The Supreme Court dismissed Buckeye’s appeal without reaching the merits, holding that Buckeye failed to show that it suffered prejudice or harm from the Commission’s orders. View "In re Complaint of Buckeye Energy Brokers v. Palmer Energy Co." on Justia Law