Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeals from orders of the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) that granted applications requesting changes to existing boundaries so that the applicants could receive advanced telecommunications services from another service provider in lieu of service from Appellant, holding that Appellant's notices of intention to appeal were not timely filed with the PSC. The PSC entered orders in both cases on July 10, 2018. Appellant subsequently submitted motions for rehearing requesting that the PSC reconsider its orders. Each motion was file stamped as having been received by the PSC on July 23. On August 21, the PSC entered orders denying the motions for rehearing. On September 13, in each case, Appellant filed a notice of intention to appeal with the PSC. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) based on the file stamps, the motions for rehearing were not filed within ten days of the effective date of the respective orders; (2) under Neb. Rev. Stat. 75-134.02, the motions did not suspend the time for filing a notice of intention to appeal; and (3) therefore, Appellant's notices of intention to appeal were filed beyond the thirty-day time limit allowed under section 75-136(2) to perfect appeals from the July 10 orders. View "In re Application No. C-4973 of Skrdlant" on Justia Law

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In these appeals for a series of condemnation proceedings initiated by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the county court plainly erred by entering a judgment on remand regarding the issue of attorney fees without holding an evidentiary hearing, holding that the county court should have considered all relevant evidence before making its determination on the motions for attorney fees. Condemnation proceedings took place in several counties through which TransCanada planned to construct an oil pipeline, including Antelope County. TransCanada ultimately voluntarily dismissed all of its condemnation actions without prejudice. This appeal concerned the motions of the condemnees in Antelope County for an award of attorney fees. The county court originally found in favor of the condemnees, but the district court reversed the award and remanded the matter for a "rehearing on the merits." Ultimately, the county court concluded that a rehearing was unnecessary and denied the condemnees their request for attorney fees. The district court reversed and remanded the matter with instructions to conduct an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court was correct to find plain error and to remand with instructions for the county court to hold an evidentiary hearing. View "TransCanada Keystone Pipeline v. Tanderup" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the Public Service Commission's (PSC) grant of an application filed by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP for approval of a major oil pipeline route and eminent domain authority and finding that the "Mainline Alternative Route" (MAR) was in the public interest, holding that TransCanada carried its burden of proving that the MAR was in the public interest and that the errors assigned by intervenors in the proceedings were without merit. The MAR approved by the PSC was a thirty-six-inch major oil pipeline and related facilities to be constructed through Nebraska. Landowners, two Indian tribes, and the Sierra Club all intervened in the proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal, holding (1) the PSC had jurisdiction to consider TransCanada's application; (2) TransCanada met its burden of proof; (3) the PSC properly considered the MAR; and (4) the intervenors were afforded due process. View "TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP v. Dunavan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the arbitration board ruling that the monthly transmission rate the City of Sidney’s whole-sale energy provider, Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), charged Sidney was excessive, unfair, and unreasonable, holding that MEAN was permitted to charge Sidney the increased transmission rate. The board determined that MEAN breached the parties’ Service Schedule M (SSM) supplemental agreement by changing the transmission path for the electric power and energy it provided to Sidney and by charging the city for the increased transmission rates. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the increased monthly transmission rate charges were required for continued performance of the SSM after the parties learned they had insufficient contractual rights to complete the transmission path to Sidney, and therefore, the charges were not incurred arbitrarily; and (2) MEAN substantially complied with the SSM in transmitting energy to Sidney, and MEAN was permitted to charge the city the increased transmission rate under the SSM. View "City of Sidney v. Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Nebraska Power Review Board (Board) transferring two newly annexed territories from the Elkhorn Rural Public Power District (ERPPD) to the City of Neligh’s electrical service area and assessing the economic impact at $490,445.90. At issue on appeal was what compensation was owed to ERPPD for reintegration costs under Neb. Rev. Stat. 70-1010(2)(b). The Court held that the Board’s actions were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable because the Board erred in failing to award compensation for reintegration costs under section 70-1010(2)(b) to ERPPD for the lost substation unit. View "In re Application of City of Neligh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Nebraska Power Review Board (Board) transferring two newly annexed territories from the Elkhorn Rural Public Power District (ERPPD) to the City of Neligh’s electrical service area and assessing the economic impact at $490,445.90. At issue on appeal was what compensation was owed to ERPPD for reintegration costs under Neb. Rev. Stat. 70-1010(2)(b). The Court held that the Board’s actions were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable because the Board erred in failing to award compensation for reintegration costs under section 70-1010(2)(b) to ERPPD for the lost substation unit. View "In re Application of City of Neligh" on Justia Law

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At issue in these forty appeals, consolidated into four for purposes of appeal, was whether the individual landowners were entitled to an award of attorney fees under Neb. Rev. Stat. 76-726. Just prior to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP’s eminent domain proceedings seeking to acquire right-of-way and other property interests in constructing an oil pipeline, certain property owners - including some of the same landowners involved in these eminent domain proceedings - filed a constitutional challenge to the pipeline route. TransCanada then dismissed its condemnation petitions, except that the Holt County petitions were dismissed in order for TransCanada to pursue approval of a pipeline route by the Public Service Commission. The landowners filed motions for attorney fees and costs. In each case, the county court granted the requests for attorney fees. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that none of the landowners established that they were entitled to attorney fees under the circumstances. View "TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP v. Nicholas Family Ltd. Partnership" on Justia Law

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According to the plain language of Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712.05(3), public records useful to an energy policy debate must be released despite an advantage flowing to a competitor. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) refused a public records request from potential competitors for documents showing cost and revenue information for each of its generation units. NPPD maintained that the requested documents fell within the exemption contained in section 84-712.05(3), which exempts from disclosure “proprietary or commercial information which if released would give advantage to business competitors and serve no public purpose.” The competitors sought a writ of mandamus to compel disclosure. The district court declined to issue a writ, concluding that the information sought was proprietary or commercial to NPPD and that, if released publicly, would give advantage to NPPD’s competitors. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, construing the exemption at issue narrowly, NPPD failed to demonstrate by clear and conclusive evidence that the information sought would serve no public purpose. View "Aksamit Resource Management v. Nebraska Public Power District" on Justia Law

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According to the plain language of Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-712.05(3), public records useful to an energy policy debate must be released despite an advantage flowing to a competitor. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) refused a public records request from potential competitors for documents showing cost and revenue information for each of its generation units. NPPD maintained that the requested documents fell within the exemption contained in section 84-712.05(3), which exempts from disclosure “proprietary or commercial information which if released would give advantage to business competitors and serve no public purpose.” The competitors sought a writ of mandamus to compel disclosure. The district court declined to issue a writ, concluding that the information sought was proprietary or commercial to NPPD and that, if released publicly, would give advantage to NPPD’s competitors. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, construing the exemption at issue narrowly, NPPD failed to demonstrate by clear and conclusive evidence that the information sought would serve no public purpose. View "Aksamit Resource Management v. Nebraska Public Power District" on Justia Law

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The City of Minden filed an application to construct a subtransmission line with the Nebraska Power Review Board (Board). Southern Public Power District (Southern) objected to the application. The Board denied the application, finding that Minden's proposal was not the most economical and feasible means of supplying electrical services and also that its proposal would unnecessarily duplicate Southern's existing line. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was evidence to support the Board's decision that Southern could more economically and feasibly transmit Minden's necessary power; and (2) the record showed sufficient evidence to support the Board's decision that Minden's line would be unnecessarily duplicative of Southern's line, and that decision was not arbitrary or unreasonable. View "In re Application of Minden" on Justia Law