Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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In 2013, legislation was enacted requiring the City of Asheville to involuntarily transfer the assets it uses to operate a public water system to a newly-created metropolitan water and sewerage district. The City filed a complaint and motion seeking injunctive relief, alleging that the involuntary transfer provisions of the legislation were unconstitutional. The trial court concluded that the involuntary transfer violated various provisions of the North Carolina Constitution and permanently enjoined the State from enforcing the legislation. The court of appeals reversed, in part, the trial court’s order and remanded to the trial court for the entry of summary judgment in favor of the State. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the challenged legislation constitutes a prohibited local act relating to health and sanitation in violation of Article II, Section 24(1)(a) of the North Carolina Constitution. View "City of Asheville v. State" on Justia Law

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Aqua North Carolina (Aqua), a public utility providing water and utility service, requested authority from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to implement a rate adjustment mechanism of the type described in N.C. Gen. Stat. 62-133.12. After a hearing, the Commission approved Aqua’s request, finding that the request to implement a rate adjustment mechanism was in the public interest. The Attorney General appealed the Commission’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission provided sufficient findings, reasoning, and conclusions to support its finding that the mechanism is in the public interest and that the Commission’s determination is supported by substantial evidence in view of the record as a whole. View "State ex rel. Utils. Comm'n v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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Duke Energy Progress filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission requesting authority to increase its retail electric service rates and that rates be established using a return on equity (ROE) of 11.25 percent. The Commission entered an order approving an ROE of 10.2 percent. The Attorney General, who had intervened in the proceedings, appealed the Commission’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission made sufficient findings of fact regarding the impact of changing economic conditions upon customers and that these findings were supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence in view of the entire record. View "State ex rel. Utils. Comm'n v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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Dominion North Carolina filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission requesting an 11.25 percent return on equity (ROE), among other things. During the course of public hearings, the Commission received evidence that Dominion made certain adjustments to a study of the costs of providing retail electric service to a large industrial customer. The Commission ultimately issued an order approving an ROE of 10.2 percent and approving of Dominion’s adjustments to the cost-of-service study. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Commission did not err by approving Dominion’s adjustments to the cost-of-service study; but (2) the portion of the Commission’s order in which it authorized a 10.2 percent ROE for Dominion did not contain sufficient findings of fact to demonstrate that it was supported by competent and substantial evidence. Remanded. View "State ex rel. Utils. Comm'n v. Attorney Gen." on Justia Law

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Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Duke) filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission (Commission) to increase its state retail electric service rates approximately 15.2 percent over current revenues. The application requested that rates be established using a return on equity (ROE) of 11.5 percent. The Commission approved a 10.5 percent ROE for Duke. The attorney general appealed the Commission's order, arguing that the order was legally deficient because it was not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence and did not include sufficient conclusions and reasoning. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commission failed to make the necessary findings of fact to support its ROE determination. Remanded to the Commission to enter sufficient findings of fact. View "State ex rel. Utils. Comm'n v. Attorney Gen." on Justia Law