Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed an order of the Public Utilities Commission granting in part and denying in part a petition for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to operate as a competitive local exchange carrier. Enhanced Communications of Northern New England, Inc. appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) after after finding that Enhanced met all three criteria set forth in section 4(A) of chapter 280 of the Commission’s regulations, the Commission could nonetheless deny Enhanced’s petition for a CPCN on public interest grounds; and (2) the Commission lawfully denied Enhanced’s petition on public interest grounds. View "Enhanced Communications of Northern New England, Inc. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia 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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Ed Friedman, joined by others, filed a complaint raising issues regarding the health effects Central Maine Power Company’s (CMP) advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system. After conducting an investigation, the Maine Public Utilities Commission concluded that AMI does not pose a credible threat of harm to the health and safety of CMP’s customers. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission applied the correct credible threat standard; (2) the Commission’s determination was supported by substantial evidence; and (3) the two Commissioners serving on the panel unequivocally concurred in the decision despite their differing rationales. View "Friedman v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was an order of the Maine Public Utilities Commission approving an alternative rate plan (ARP) for Bangor Gas Company, LLC. The Maine Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and Bucksport Mill, LLC appealed from the Commission’s order. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not abuse its discretion or exceed its statutory authority in calculating the APR initial rate base by utilizing an unimpaired, “original cost” valuation of Bangor Gas’s assets rather than the impaired “acquisition cost” incurred by Bangor Gas’s parent company; and (2) the OPA’s argument that the Commission abused its discretion by including in its revenue requirement calculation a portion of the Bangor Gas’s regulatory proceeding expenses amortized over five years need not be addressed because the Commission’s decision to include the regulatory proceeding expenses in its revenue requirement analysis had no impact on its decision to approve the ARP. View "Office of Pub. Advocate v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n" on Justia Law

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The Public Utilities Commission found that, from 2008 to 2010, Central Maine Power Company (CMP) had applied approximately $2.6 million worth of customer deposits to debts owed on its own transmission-and-distribution services when that portion of the deposits should have been applied to debts owed for standard-offer service. Accordingly, the Commission ordered CMP to remedy its misallocation of deposits between its separate receivables accounts. The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decision, holding (1) the Commission correctly interpreted the governing statutes and regulations; (2) under the circumstances of this case, the Commission’s retroactive application of its new interpretation did not offend concepts of due process or reasonable notice; and (3) the Commission’s decision did not constitute improper retroactive ratemaking.View "Cent. Me. Power Co. v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n" on Justia Law

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The Public Utilities Commission (Commission) approved, with multiple conditions, two petitions for reorganization filed by two regulated electrical utilities in Maine. The reorganization would allow changes in the corporate ownership of specific entities that transmit and distribute electricity in Maine such that they would be held in common ownership with generators of electricity in Maine, primarily, generators of electricity from wind power. Several intervenors appealed the Commission's approval of the petitions, arguing that the proposed union under a single ownership of transmission-and-distribution utilities and electricity generators was prohibited by the Electric Industry Restructuring Act. The Supreme Court vacated the order of the Commission, holding that the Commission incorrectly interpreted the Act in making its determination. Remanded for reexamination of the proposals to determine whether the Act permits the reorganization proposed in this case.View "Houlton Water Co. v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n " on Justia Law

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In 2008, the Public Utilities Commission approved a merger between FairPoint Communications-NNE (FairPoint) and Verizon Maine (Verizon). The merger order committed FairPoint to expanding DSL availability in Maine to certain percentages within certain periods of time. The merger order incorporated an amended stipulation presented by FairPoint and other parties. Approximately twenty months later, FairPoint filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Commission agreed to reduce FairPoint's ultimate broadband buildout obligations from ninety percent addressability to eighty-seven percent. Fairpoint subsequently notified the Commission that it had expanded broadband buildout to the level of eighty-three percent. The Commission disagreed, concluding that FairPoint had used the wrong measure of addressability and therefore overstated its results. At issue on appeal was how "addressability" would be measured when calculating FairPoint's broadband buildout commitments in Maine. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the merger order was an order of the Commission and not a consent decree, and therefore, the Commission did not err by failing to interpret the merger order in a manner consistent with the intent and understanding of the parties to the stipulation; and (2) the Commission did not err in its definition of "addressability." View "N. New England Tel. Operations LLC v. Pub. Utils. Comm'n" 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