Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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After Appellants, several public utilities, sought to condemn a permanent easement across the property of Landowners for a high-voltage transmission line, Landowners elected to compel Appellants to purchase their entire parcel of land pursuant to the Buy-the-Farm statute, Minn. Stat. 216E.12(4). Appellants challenged Landowners’ election, arguing that it was not reasonable because the land subject to the election was much larger than the land needed for the easement and that the district court must consider several factors in addition to the statute’s requirements, including the size of the election. The district court approved the election, concluding that it was not required to analyze factors outside the provisions of the Buy-the-Farm statute. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the language of the statute forecloses Appellants’ assertion that the district court must engage in a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis of the reasonableness of Landowners’ election; (2) case law does not require an extra-statutory analysis; and (3) because Landowners’ election meets the statutory requires, the district court did not err in approving the compelled purchase of the parcel. View "Great River Energy v. Swedzinski" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Minnesota Power sought an increase in service rates of approximately 18.9 percent. As part of its submission to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota Power also requested an interim rate increase of approximately $73.3 million. The Commission decided to set the interim rate increase at approximately $48.5 million after finding exigent circumstances existed. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Commission did not err in finding exigent circumstances and did not abuse its discretion in setting interim rates. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the Commission's decision to set Minnesota Power's interim rate increase at $48.5 million. View "In re Application of Minn. Power for Auth. to Increase Rates for Elec. Serv. in Minn." on Justia Law

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Appellants were landowners who elected to require a utility to condemn their property in fee after Respondents sought to acquire easements through their property by eminent domain in order to construct a high-voltage electric transmission line. After making this election, Appellants requested that Respondents provide them with minimum compensation and relocation assistance. Respondents moved the district court for an order clarifying whether such benefits are available to property owners making an election under Minn. Stat. 216E.12. The district court concluded that such benefits were available to Appellants, but the court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellants satisfied the statutory criteria for receiving minimum compensation and relocation assistance and were therefore entitled to such benefits. Remanded. View "N. States Power Co. v. Aleckson" on Justia Law

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County filed a claim for reimbursement with City, alleging that City had overcharged County for sewer and water services. Following consideration at a city council meeting, City denied County's claim. County subsequently sued City in district court. City moved for summary judgment, asserting that review of its decision was limited to certiorari review under Minn. Stat. 606 and that County's failure to bring a timely certiorari petition deprived the district court of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) City's decision to deny the refund was a quasi-judicial decision, and therefore, the exclusive method for reviewing City's decision was through a writ of certiorari under chapter 606; and (2) accordingly, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear County's claim. View "County of Washington v. City of Oak Park Heights" on Justia Law