Articles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the Maine Public Utilities Commission approving a stipulation regarding Efficiency Maine Trust’s Third Triennial Plan for energy efficiency, holding that the Commission did not err in interpreting and applying the relevant statutes. The Conservation Law Foundation appealed from the Commission’s order approving the stipulation, arguing that the order and the terms of the stipulation disregarded statutory mandates set forth in the Efficiency Maine Trust Act. See Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 35-A, 10101-10123. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the Commission’s order and the stipulation did not violate statutory mandates for electric energy efficiency or the statutory mandate to assess each natural gas utility an amount to capture all maximum achievable cost-effective energy efficiency savings. View "Conservation Law Foundation v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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Bangor Hydro-Electric (BHE) and Maine Public Service Company (MPS) were regulated utilities engaged in the transmission and distribution of electric it. The companies merged to become Emera Maine during the pendency of this proceeding. BHE and MPS filed a petition for reorganization, under which Emera Maine’s parent company would increase its ownership interest in Algonquin Power & Utilities Corporation (APUC), a publicly-traded company that is in the electricity generation business. The petition was subject to approval by the Maine Public Utilities Commission because of the relationship that would result between Emera Maine, as a transmission and distribution entity, and APUC, a generator. The Commission approved the petition. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Commission’s order approving the petition, holding that the Commission misconstrued the governing statute in the Electric Industry Restructuring Act. On remand, the Commission once again approved the petition. On the second appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Commission’s order, holding that the Commission acted outside of its authority when it imposed conditions that would regulate APUC beyond what the Restructuring Act allows. Remanded with instructions to deny the petition. View "Houlton Water Co. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law

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Passadumkeag Windpark, LLC (PW) sought approval to construct a wind farm on property owned by Penobscot Forest, LLC (PF) located in Grand Falls Township. The Department of Environmental Protection denied the requested permit. On review, the Board of Environmental Protection (Board) granted the permit. Passadumkeag Mountain Friends (PMF), a Maine nonprofit corporation, and Alexander and Rhonda Cuprak appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board, holding (1) the decision of the Board was operative for purposes of appellate review; (2) the Board’s findings and conclusion were supported by substantial evidence in the record; and (3) certain communications between the Board, PW, and PF during the application process did not affect the Cupraks’ due process rights. View "Passadumkeag Mountain Friends v. Bd. of Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law

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The Department of Environmental Protection approved an application of Saddleback Ridge Wind, LLC for a permit to construct the Saddleback Ridge Wind Project, a wind energy development. The Board of Environmental Protection affirmed. Friends of Maine's Mountains, Friends of Saddleback Mountain, and several individuals appealed, arguing, among other things, that the Board abused its discretion when determining which nighttime sound level limit to apply to the applications. The Supreme Court vacated the Board's order related to nighttime sound requirements and remanded, holding that the Board failed to meet its statutory obligation to protect the health and welfare of the Project's neighbors and thus abused its discretion in approving Saddleback's permit applications. View "Friends of Maine's Mountains. v. Bd. of Envtl. Prot." on Justia Law

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Ed Friedman and others (collectively, Friedman) appealed the Maine Public Utilities Commission's dismissal of their complaint against Central Maine Power Company (CMP) regarding CMP's use of smart-meter technology. Friedman also appealed the Commission's dismissal of those portions of the complaint that were directed at the Commission and raised constitutional concerns regarding orders previously issued by the Commission. Friedman asserted, among other issues, that the Commission erred because its dismissal of his complaint ignored the Commission's statutory mandate to ensure the delivery of safe and reasonable utility services. The Commission and CMP contended that the complaint was properly dismissed in all respects. Because the Supreme Court agreed with Friedman that the Commission should not have dismissed the portion of the complaint against CMP addressing health and safety issues, the Court vacated that portion of the judgment and otherwise affirmed. View "Friedman v. Public Utilities Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Covanta Maine, LLC (Covanta), a subsidiary of Covanta Energy, appealed from orders of the Public Utilities Commission denying Covanta's requests for certification of two of its facilities as Class I new renewable resources. Covanta argued that the Commission erred by basing its conclusion that the facilities were not refurbished on the ratio of Covanta's expenditures in the facilities to the value of those facilities, and it therefore asserted that the Commission improperly denied certification of its two facilities. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Commission, holding that the Commission erred by establishing a requirement that the expenditures meet some minimum level that equals an unspecified percentage of the total value of the facility. Remanded. View "Covanta Maine, LLC v. Pub. Utils. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) approved the issuance of a permit to TransCanada Maine Wind Development, Inc. to construct a wind energy facility. Friends of the Boundary Mountains (FBM) appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that LURC (1) did not abuse its discretion in denying FMB's request to reopen a public hearing on TransCanada's original application or to conduct a new hearing on the amended application; (2) did not violate its own procedural rules; (3) properly handled consideration of several issues raised by FMB during the administrative proceedings; and (4) did not err in finding that TransCanada's wind energy project would provide significant "tangible benefits" under 12 Me. Rev. Stat. 685-B(4-B)(D). View "Friends of the Boundary Mtns. v. Land Use Reg. Comm'n" on Justia Law