Posts Authored by Devin D. Parram

Court dismisses class action against Cleveland Public Power

The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas dismissed a class action lawsuit against Cleveland Public Power (CPP), holding that certain utility charges totaling more than $188 million were not unlawful. The crux of the lawsuit was Environmental and Ecological Adjustment (EEA) charges that CCP charged customers in addition to base rates. Unlike base rates, EEA charges do not need approval from city council. The EEA charges were collected by CPP from 1984 into 2013. And although CPP stopped assessing these fees in 2013, it began charging customers again in 2017. The plaintiffs claimed that CPP was not allowed to charge the EEA charges under the terms of CPP’s electric service contract with its customers, because these charges did not relate to compliance with environmental laws or regulations.             

To examine the plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim, the court analyzed the City of Cleveland’s ordinances, which incorporate the terms of the electric service contract. After analyzing the ordinances establishing the EEA, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments. The court found that the language of the ordinances (and, thus, the electric service contract) did not limit the scope of EEA charges to costs related to environmental laws or regulations.                                                        

The court’s decision is likely to be appealed, but it closes the first chapter in a contentious legal battle regarding CPP’s utility charges. The decision is also noteworthy due to the court’s in-depth analysis of the applicable standard of review for Ohio courts that are asked to consider the lawfulness of municipal utilities’ rates.

For more, read the full decision.

Energy Efficiency, Miscellaneous, State Updates

Ohio kicks off interconnection rulemaking: Implications for distributed generation

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently opened a docket to review Ohio Adm. Code Chapter 4901:1-22, which contains the rules for interconnecting distributed generation to the electric distribution system. The PUCO’s review of the interconnection rules comes shortly after the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) released updates and revisions to the IEEE 1547 standard regarding the requirements for interconnecting distributed energy resources (DERs) with the electric distribution system. It also comes shortly after the PUCO’s release of “PowerForward: A Roadmap to Ohio’s Electricity Future,” which sets forth certain policy positions and outlines principles and objectives for Ohio’s grid modernization efforts. 

On September 11, 2018, the PUCO held a stakeholder workshop to solicit feedback on potential revisions to the rules. For more, read the full publication.

Energy Efficiency, State Updates

Potential benefits of microgrids for hospitals

For hospitals, a major power outage can pose a serious threat to the health of patients. In the wake of various hurricanes and severe storms in 2017, there has been a renewed focus on ways to increase reliability and resiliency for hospitals beyond traditional backup diesel generators. One option that has been discussed recently is microgrids. This article discusses what constitutes a microgrid and summarizes some of the potential benefits microgrids can provide hospitals. In addition, this article discusses AEP-Ohio’s proposed microgrid demonstration project. If AEP-Ohio’s proposal is accepted by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (the Commission), a medical facility within AEP-Ohio’s service territory may be eligible to be selected to host a microgrid. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency

Ohio legislature considers expansion of broadband service for underserved areas

Internet access has become a vital part of our everyday way of life. The ability to access the internet is critical for job searching, conducting government business, shopping, accessing important medical and financial information, and all levels of education. However, there are approximately 2.5 million Ohioans who lack access to reliable broadband service. In addition, nearly 90,000 businesses in Ohio do not have access to broadband internet. A recent Ohio State University study indicates that these underserved populations largely live in less populated rural regions where it is cost prohibitive for internet service providers to extend service. Read more >>

Legal Developments, Regional Updates, State Updates