Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
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The Supreme Court reversed a portion of the utility regulatory commission's order that approved in part Duke Energy's request to increase its rates for retail consumers, holding that, absent specific statutory authorization, a utility cannot recoup its past costs adjudicated under a prior rate case by treating the costs as a capitalized asset.In 2020, the commission granted Duke's petition for a rate increase in part permitting Duke to recover about $212 million for coal-ash site closures, remediation, and financing costs, with the bulk of the costs having been incurred from 2015 to 2018. At issue was whether the commission could approve reimbursement for a deferred asset without violating the statutory bar against retroactive ratemaking. The Supreme Court answered in the negative, holding that the commission acted without statutory authority in re-adjudicating expenses already governed by a prior rate order. View "Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor v. Duke Energy Indiana, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by Solarize Indiana, Inc. seeking judicial review of the administration decision of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approving two filings submitted by Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana, Inc. under an expedited process known as the "Thirty-Day Rule," holding that Solarize lacked standing to bring this appeal.In objecting to Vectren's filings, Solarize, an organization that promotes the use of solar power in Indiana, asserted that the filings were not compliant with federal law. The IURC approved the filings, after which Solarize requested judicial review. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Solarize lacked standing because it failed to show that it was "adversely affected" by the IURC's order. View "Solarize Indiana, Inc. v. Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co." on Justia Law

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Under traditional rate regulation, an energy utility must first make improvements to its infrastructure before it can recover their cost through regulator-approved rate increases to customers. The process is an expensive, onerous rate-making case, which involves a comprehensive review of the utility’s entire business operations. In 2013 the legislature authorized utilities to obtain regulatory preapproval for “designated” improvements to their infrastructure. Under the “TDSIC” Statute, a utility can seek regulatory approval of a seven-year plan that designates eligible improvements, followed by periodic petitions to adjust rates automatically as approved investments are completed. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission preapproved approximately $20 million in infrastructure investments and authorized increases to NIPSCO’s natural-gas rates under the TDSIC mechanism. The approval referred to categories of improvements that describe broad parameters for future improvements but did not designate those improvements with specificity. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed, in part, concluding that the TDSIC Statute permits periodic rate increases only for specific projects a utility designates, and the Commission approves, in the threshold proceeding and not for multiple-unit projects using ascertainable planning criteria. A utility must specifically identify the projects or improvements at the outset in its seven-year plan and not in later proceedings involving periodic updates. Commission approval of “broad categories of unspecified projects defeats the purpose of having a plan.” View "NIPSCO Industrial Group v. Northern Indiana Public Service Co." on Justia Law