Public Service Commission

Daniel Jordan, Esquire

Tariff cannot change common law. The State of Missouri Public Service Commission v. Missouri Gas Energy, No. 75024 (Mo. App. W.D., January 8, 2013), Martin, J.

Public Service Commission approved tariffs limiting utility’s tort liability.

Held: Commission reversed.
On review of earlier Public Service Commission order, court of appeals held that tariff provisions on utility’s liability must be consistent with common law, and Public Service Commission cannot authorize departure from common law. That ruling disposes of later Commission order approving tariffs purporting to alter common law as to utility’s liability.

Affiliate Transaction Okay. In the Matter of Atmos Energy Corporation’s 2008-2009 Purchased Gas Adjustment and Actual Cost Adjustment; Public Service Commission v. Office of Public Counsel, No. 74916 (Mo. App. W.D., December 18, 2012), Ellis, J.

Public Service Commission’s regulation controls regulated utility’s dealings with unregulated affiliated entity. Utility sought bids for wholesale gas to sell at retail. Affiliate was low bidder.

Held: Commission affirmed.
Showing that affiliate made a profit on the transaction did not prove that utility violated regulation and did not prove that utility made an imprudent purchase. Renewable Energy Standards Regulations okay.

Order incorporating agreement enforced. State of Missouri ex rel. Laclede Gas Company v. Public Service Commission of the State of Missouri, No. 74852 (Mo. App. W.D., December 11, 2012), Welsh, J.

Agreement with Commission staff, approved in Commission order, allowed utility to reorganize subject to conditions that utility would deliver documents related to unregulated affiliate, including pursuant to discovery during adjudication, and waive objection that documents were not in utility’s possession. In later adjudication, utility failed to comply with discovery, according to circuit court judgment. In an action before Commission for penalties based on violation of agreement in adjudication, utility filed motion for summary determination, seeking a ruling on agreement’s meaning.

Held: Commission affirmed.Summary judgment regulation dispenses with evidentiary hearing if there is no genuine dispute of material fact. Substantial and competent evidence supported Commission order finding a violation of agreement. “The Commission is entitled to interpret its own orders and to ascribe to them a proper meaning” including a meaning different from one earlier ascribed. Commission did not err in dismissing utility’s counterclaim, which sought a ruling on pending adjudication because “the Commission is not authorized to issue advisory opinions . . . and it should not be issuing decisions with ‘no practical effect and that are only advisory as to future, hypothetical situations.’”

State of Missouri, ex rel., Missouri Energy Development Association; State of Missouri, ex rel., Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers; State of Missouri, ex rel., The Empire District electric Company; State of Missouri, ex rel., Union Electric Company d/b/a Amerenue v. Public Service Commission, No. 74896 (Mo. App. W.D., November 20, 2012), Howard, J.

Public Service Commission published regulations pursuant to statute on renewable energy standards for utilities. Final order of rulemaking withdrew portion of proposed regulation. Circuit court held regulations unlawful.

Held: Circuit court reversed.
Regulations, relating to sources of public utilities’ energy and retail rate impact, did not violate enabling statutes as to retail rate impact. Lawfulness of provisions in final order of rulemaking, on geographic source of renewable energy credits, is moot because unchallenged revised final order of rulemaking withdrew them. Possible future interpretations and applications of regulations were not ripe for appellate review because they have not yet occurred.