On August 21, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the EPA’s Cross State Air Pollution Rules, also known as the Transport Rules, that governed the emissions reduction responsibility of 28 upwind states – including Pennsylvania -- under the “good neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). EME Homer City Generation L.P. v. EPA, No. 11-1302 (D.D.C. August 21, 2012)(Kavanaugh, J. on the opinion, joined by Judge Griffith). The “good neighbor” provisions of the CAA require that upwind states prevent sources within their borders from emitting pollution that “contributes significantly” to downwind states’ nonattainment of federal air quality standards. The EPA adopted the Transport Rules in August 2011 to define the “good neighbor” obligations for two emissions: sulfur dioxide (SO?) and nitrogen oxide (NO?).
HMS Legal Blog
Providing a win to competitive suppliers, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) at its July 19 public meeting unanimously denied PPL’s request for a migration rider for default service customers.
PA PUC Requested by Statutory Advocates and Two NGDCs to Examine The Practice of Natural Gas Flexible Pricing or Negotiated Discount Rates
Historically the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has permitted natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs) to use flexible pricing or “flex” contract rates to attract or retain large customers who have other energy alternatives. The reasoning has been that “half a loaf is better than none,” and that such revenues, which cover and exceed marginal cost, contribute positively to overall cost of service. The result is a benefit to the large customer, the utility, and all customers generally. Moreover, in terms of retaining a customer, the argument in favor of the status quo is that other ratepayers benefit as they do not bear the revenue burden of stranded investment or a smaller revenue pot over which to apply costs. The NGDCs have generally been able to recover from other ratepayers the difference between the “flex” rate and what would have otherwise been charged under an ordinary general tariff rate.
Solar developers are finding that Pennsylvania funding sources for solar development are drying up with no plans of replenishing the pool. The dearth of available solar grants could not come at a worse time. On May 17, 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department announced stiff tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels raising costs on most future solar projects.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) has clarified Gas & Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act for Class 1 Entities.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will now decide whether migration riders will be permitted for electricity customers, at the same time it is moving forward with its Retail Markets Investigation and its notable efforts to make the electricity markets more competitive.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) recently extended the Fuel Cost Recovery Surcharge for household goods carriers for an additional year, until April 18, 2013, to enable carriers to continue to recover increased diesel fuel costs.
Does a natural gas company that is not currently authorized to provide service in a territory, but with future plans to file for such authorization, have standing to contest another gas company’s application to provide service in that same territory? This issue was addressed in an Initial Decision by ALJ David A. Salapa, who answered it in the negative. Application of Leatherstocking Gas Co., L.L.C. for Approval To Supply Natural Gas Service to the Public, A-2011-2275595 (Initial Decision, issued March 20, 2012).
The PUC yesterday took a big first step toward creating an electricity market where most customers are served by competitive suppliers, and not by utilities, and unanimously voted to adopt recommendations for the next round of default service plans that will be filed by Pennsylvania’s electric utilities.
Two electric distribution companies, First Energy and PECO Energy Company, have filed their default service plans for service that will begin in 2013 – before the PUC has issued final guidance on what those plans should include.
Under Pennsylvania’s Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act, owners, operators and installers of underground storage tanks who incur liability for cleanup of tank spills are entitled to reimbursement from the Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund under certain circumstances, but only if they advise the Fund of a claim within 60 days “after the confirmation of a release.”
Small group plan health insurance rate increases of more than 10% must be filed and approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department under a new law signed by Governor Corbett in late December, 2011. The expanded authority under Act 134 to review small group health plan rates in Pennsylvania comes in response to provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that give the federal government the authority to disapprove such increases unless they are reviewed at the state level.
PUC’s Electric Transmission Line Environmental Impact Inquiry “Little More Than a Speed Bump,” Says Court Dissenter
Pennsylvania’s electric utilities need consider potential adverse environmental impacts only for the route proposed and the considered alternate routes when siting high voltage transmission lines, and need not consider the environmental impact of other potential engineering solutions considered to address the underlying reliability issue, said a majority of the Commonwealth Court in affirming the PUC’s approval of PPL’s Lehigh Valley Region transmission upgrade. Board of Supervisors of Springfield Township v. Pa.PUC, ___ A.3d ___ (Pa. Cmwlth. 2012) (No. 1624 C.D. 2009, filed January 13, 2012).
On January 3, 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issued a Special Bulletin extending the deadline for persons who own fuel oil delivery trucks to comply with section 3.31 of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 44. Section 3.31 of NIST requires installation of special equipment on fuel oil delivery trucks so that proper testing can be performed for temperature adjusted product. The deadline for the installation of this equipment has been extended from July 1, 2011 to October 1, 2012.
Unfair Trade Practice Claims Involving Utility Billing: PUC has Primary but Not Exclusive Jurisdiction
Utility customers who challenge billing practices under the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) must bring their challenge first to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), but may pursue their claim in civil court under the UTPCPL if the PUC concludes that the utility violated its tariff, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.
EPA has posted its bio diesel standards for 2012. As part of the EPA’s mandate to march the U.S. toward energy independence, the EPA establishes the minimum bio fuel requirements that manufacturers must meet each year. The new bio standards are out and they equate to an aggressive total renewable fuel volume of 9% of all fuels sold.