Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Commissioner, alleging that the Commissioner's actions, which were taken pursuant to section 6 of Connecticut Public Act 13‐303 and include his awarding two power purchase agreements to Intervenors, are preempted by the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 791-828, and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), 16 U.S.C. 824a-3. The court held that plaintiff cannot bring claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988 to vindicate any rights conferred by PURPA because PURPA’s private right of action forecloses these remedies; plaintiff failed to exhaust its administrative remedies, a prerequisite for any qualified facility to bring an equitable action seeking to vindicate specific rights conferred by PURPA; and plaintiff lacks standing to bring a preemption action seeking solely to void the contracts awarded to Intervenors Fusion Solar and Number Nine. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint on alternative grounds. View "ALLCO v. Klee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Utilities Law

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has regulatory authority over interstate aspects of the nation’s electric power system, but not over “facilities used in local distribution or only for the transmission of electric energy in intrastate commerce,” 16 U.S.C. 824(a). FERC entered orders adopting standards and procedures for determining which power distribution facilities are subject to the agency’s regulatory jurisdiction and which facilities fall within the statutory exception for local distribution of electric energy. The state and the Public Service Commission of the State of New York challenged the standards and procedures as an unreasonable interpretation of the agency’s statutory grant of jurisdiction and as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Second Circuit upheld the orders as reasonably interpreting the agency’s regulatory jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act as amended by the Electricity Modernization Act of 2005 and supported by sufficient explanation and substantial evidence as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. View "New York v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders issued in 2013 and 2014 approved the New York Independent System Operator’s (NYISO) creation of a new wholesale electric power “capacity zone” comprising areas of Southeastern New York, including the lower Hudson Valley. The orders followed NYISO’s identification of areas in which customers received power from suppliers located on the other side of a “transmission constraint” in the electrical grid. Because of the way New York’s capacity markets work, NYISO concluded that financial incentives for capacity resources in the transmission‐constrained area that became the Valley Zone were inadequate, jeopardizing the reliability of the grid. FERC’s approval of the Zone, with a new “demand curve” to set capacity prices, were designed to address the reliability problem by providing more accurate price signals to in‐zone resources, but were expected to result in higher prices to customers. Utilities, the state, and the New York Public Service Commission alleged that FERC failed adequately to justify the expected higher prices, particularly without a “phase‐in” of the new zone and its demand curve, in violation of FERC’s statutory mandate to ensure that rates are “just and reasonable,” 16 U.S.C. 824d(a). The Second Circuit rejected the challenge. FERC adequately justified its decisions. View "Cent. Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against defendants alleging that defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq., and New York statutory and common law. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants obtained unauthorized attorneys' fees and costs in connection with actions to foreclose liens on plaintiffs' properties arising out of unpaid municipal property taxes and water and sewer charges. The court held that liens for mandatory water and sewer charges imposed by New York City as an incident to property ownership, which are treated as akin to property tax liens, are not subject to the FDCPA because they do not involve a "debt" as that term is defined in the statute. The court also held that the district court properly declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Boyd v. J.E. Robert Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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Entergy, owner and operator of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, filed suit against Vermont, raising claims challenging Vermont statutes governing Vermont Yankee (Acts 74, 160, and 189) and other claims related to Vermont's attempt to condition its grant of permission to operate Vermont Yankee on the execution of a power purchase agreement that favored Vermont retail consumers. The court affirmed the district court's grant of declaratory judgment that Act 74 and Act 160 were facially preempted by the Atomic Energy Act, 42 U.S.C. 2011-2281; reversed the district court's determination that Vermont's efforts to condition a new Certificate of Public Good for Vermont Yankee on the execution of a favorable power purchase agreement violated the dormant Commerce Clause; affirmed the district court's determination that Entergy's challenge under the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791-828c, was unripe; affirmed the district court's grant of a permanent injunction enjoining defendants from enforcing sections 6522(c)(2) or 6522(c)(4) in title 10 of the Vermont Statutes, as enacted by Act 74, or sections 248(e)(2), 248(m), or 254 in title 30 of the Vermont Statutes, as enacted by Act 160; and vacated the district court's permanent injunction enjoining defendants from conditioning the issuance of a Certificate of Public Good on the execution of a below-wholesale-market power purchase agreement between Entergy and Vermont utilities or otherwise requiring Vermont Yankee to sell power to Vermont utilities at preferential rates. View "Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee v. Shumlin" on Justia Law