Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Energy, Oil & Gas Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Energy Facility Siting Board (the board or EFSB) concerning the relocation of power lines across the Providence and Seekonk Rivers, holding that Petitioners had standing and that review of the Board's decisions was timely.Petitioners in this case were the City of Providence, Friends of India Point Park, The Hilton Garden Inn, and The R.I. Seafood Festival. Petitioners sought review of a January 17, 2018 order in which the Board stated that the "bridge alignment north" and the "underground alignment" were not feasible but approved the "bridge alignment south." Respondents - EFSB, the City of East Providence, and National Grid - sought review of the order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) all Petitioners except for Hilton lacked standing in this matter; and (2) while the Board's order was deficient, the next preferred alignment was the bridge alignment south, and therefore, the order of the Board is upheld. View "In re Narragansett Electric Co." on Justia Law

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Power Survey Company sought a writ of certiorari before the Supreme Court contending that the Public Utilities Commission improperly interpreted and applied the Contact Voltage Statute when it approved the portion of the Narragansett Electric Company’s (NEC) contact voltage program providing for the issuance of a request for proposal for the purpose of choosing a vendor to provide the technology for the NEC’s contact voltage testing. The Supreme Court issued the writ. Respondents, the NEC and the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, moved to quash the writ on the grounds that it was not timely filed. The Supreme Court granted Respondents’ motions, holding that, under the facts of this case, Power Survey’s petition was untimely. View "In re Proceedings to Establish a Contact Voltage Detection & Repair Program" on Justia Law

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The state public utilities commission approved a power-purchase agreement (PPA) between National Grid and Deepwater Wind, the respondents. Under the PPA, Deepwater Wind agreed to construct an offshore wind farm in state waters and then sell the generated electricity to National Grid, a statewide power distributor. National Grid, in turn, pledged to purchase the generated electricity and apportion the cost of building the wind farm to in-state ratepayers over the course of the twenty-year contract. Dissatisfied with National Grid's cost-distribution plan, petitioners Toray Plastics and Polytop challenged the commission's assessment that the PPA met all statutory preconditions for approval. The Supreme Court affirmed the commission's decision, concluding that the commission accurately interpreted and applied the law by making findings that were lawful and reasonable, fairly and substantially supported by legal evidence, and sufficiently specific for the Court to ascertain that the evidence upon which the commission based its findings reasonably supported the result. View "In re Review of Proposed Town of New Shoreham Project" on Justia Law

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Rather than undertaking appeals from the assessment of taxes on its gas assets in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws 44-5-26(a), plaintiff electric company sought declaratory and injunctive relief directly from the superior court. Plaintiff sued the taxing authorities of most of Rhode Island's municipalities, requesting a declaration that because the municipalities failed to tax plaintiff's gas assets as tangible personal property, they assessed illegal taxes. The trial justice dismissed all but one count of plaintiff's complaint, holding that plaintiff did not file a timely appeal or invoke the court's equitable jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed. Because plaintiff elected to bypass the applicable review procedures and proceed directly to the superior court, plaintiff failed to establish that it had been assessed an illegal tax. Thus, plaintiff could not avail itself of the direct appeal to the superior court. View "Narragansett Electric Co. v. Minardi, et al." on Justia Law