Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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In consolidated cases, two municipalities sought to provide electric service through municipal electric utilities. Central to both cases was the applicability Michigan Administrative Code Rule 411 (sometimes referred to as a utility’s right to first entitlement). Rule 460.3411 (Rule 411) was inapplicable when a municipal utility is involved and has not consented to the jurisdiction of the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC). Additionally, under the circumstances of each case, the Michigan Supreme Court found there was not a customer already receiving service from another utility; accordingly, MCL 124.3 did not prevent either plaintiff from providing electric service. View "City of Holland v. Consumers Energy Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Great Wolf Lodge of Traverse City, LLC (Lodge) is a water park that sits on former farmland. In 2000, the Lodge annexed a new portion of the former farmland to expand its premises. Defendant Cherryland Electric Cooperative (Cherryland) ran an electric line to the former farm. Cherryland insisted that it had exclusive rights to provide electric service to the Lodge. The Lodge did not protest Cherrylandâs assertion in order to keep its expansion project on track. The new Cherryland contract called for discounted rates. Over the course of the contract, Cherryland unilaterally raised the rates. The Lodge filed suit seeking a refund of excess rates it paid to Cherryland, and to have the ability to choose its own electric service provider. A hearing officer would rule in favor of the Lodge on the rate refund, but would not allow it to choose its own service provider, citing Cherrylandâs âright of first entitlementâ that dated back to when it provided service to the farm. The appellate court reversed the hearing officer. One of the issues on appeal to the Supreme Court was whether Cherrylandâs âright of first entitlementâ stopped when the property ownership changed hands. The Court concluded that the right is not extinguished when ownership changes. The Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court, and reinstated the decision of the hearing officer.