Sutherland Coop Law Blog
content top

Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative Completes Acquisition of Electric Service Territory from Alliant Energy

The Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative, a group of 12 electric cooperatives, finalized the acquisition of electric service territory in southern Minnesota from investor-owned Alliant Energy.  Approximately 43,000 Alliant Energy customers in southern Minnesota are now member-owners of their respective electric cooperative.  Read more about the acquisition here.
Continue Reading

USDA Announced New Loans to be Placed through Coops to Support Rural Businesses

The USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service announced $18.1 million in loans to support 92 projects related to the start-up or expansion of rural small businesses.  These zero-interest loans help utilities fund projects and create and retain employment in rural areas.  The South Mississippi Electric Power Association will receive a $2 million loan to assist the city of Greenwood renovate a building for the Milwaukee Tools Company.  Read more about the announcement here and see the loan recipients...
Continue Reading

Obama Administration Considers Pushing Back Clean Power Plan Deadlines

On Tuesday the New York Times reported that the Obama administration plans to push back Clean Power Plan deadlines.  Originally the Clean Power Plan required existing plants to develop a plan to cut emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.  The Plan further required states to present a plan for implementing Plan rules by 2016 and begin compliance by 2020.  The Obama administration reportedly plans to push these deadlines back to 2018 and 2022, respectively. The administration’s willingness to push back compliance deadlines could indicate that the administration is also...
Continue Reading

New Coop-Owned Ethanol Refinery Fires Up

A new ethanol refinery, in which Minnesota-based Great River Energy (GRE) owns a majority stake, recently reached commercial operation.  The refinery is located adjacent to a GRE-owned coal-fired power plant.  Steam from the coal plant is used to power the refinery.  Click here for more.
Continue Reading

NRECA Study Links Higher Electricity Prices to Job Losses

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) recently released a study highlighting the relationship between higher electricity prices and job losses.  The study shows the impact of a 10 and 25 percent price increase on the gross domestic product and jobs from 2020 to 2040.  Please click here for additional information.
Continue Reading

EKPC to Purchase Oldham County Natural Gas Power Plant

East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) plans to purchase a natural gas-fired power plant in Oldham County, Kentucky from Bluegrass Generation Co. LLC.  EKPC plans to complete the transaction by the end of the year.  Sutherland is representing EKPC in connection with the acquisition.  Please click here for additional information.
Continue Reading

Bonneville Power Administration’s Rate Increase to Hit Coops

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) recently announced that it will raise its wholesale power rates by 7.1 percent and its transmission rates by 4.4 percent, effective October 1.  BPA, a federal agency and the largest wholesale provider in the northwestern United States, supplies wholesale power to 54 electric cooperatives.  Click here for more.
Continue Reading

Arizona Appeals Court Allows Utility to Burn Trash for Renewable Energy

Despite resistance from the Sierra Club, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled to allow the Mohave Electric Cooperative (“Mohave”) to burn trash for renewable energy, acknowledging the Arizona Corporation Commission’s (the “Commission”) constitutional authority to regulate such issues.  Before the project was stopped by the Sierra Club, the Commission previously allowed Mohave to count 90 percent of the energy from trash burning at its facility toward the requirement that renewable energy constitutes at least 15 percent of a utility’s energy portfolio.  Read more about the...
Continue Reading

Call (Un)Answered (the Second Ring): FCC Issues Sweeping Package of Declaratory Rulings on TCPA Petitions

In some of its most comprehensive guidance published in years, resolving more than 20 petitions requesting clarification of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on July 10 published a 138-page Declaratory Ruling and Order.  Given the opportunity to add much needed clarity and reason to the TCPA, which has spawned thousands of class action lawsuits over just the past few years, the FCC dialed a wrong number.  Click here to read...
Continue Reading

Minnesota Electric Cooperative to Install Solar on Municipal Building

In a deal being billed as the first of its kind, Wright-Hennepin Electric Cooperative Association (Wright-Hennepin) has reached an agreement with the city of Rockford whereby Wright-Hennepin will install solar panels on two separate sites owned by the city. Wright-Hennepin will not be responsible for any lease payments, and the city will receive a 7 percent discount on its electricity for 25 years. To read more about this pilot program, please click...
Continue Reading

Kentucky PSC Approves Big Rivers Sales into Nebraska

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (KPSC) has approved a plan allowing Big Rivers Electric Corp. (Big Rivers) to sell wholesale power to customers in the State of Nebraska. The settlement provides that, under certain conditions, the profits from these sales would be contributed to funds being used to ease the impact of recent rate increases. Big Rivers will begin sales in January 2018. To read more about this story, please click here.
Continue Reading

USDA Announces Funding for Rural Electric Infrastructure Projects

The Secretary of Agriculture announced today that $349 million in funding would be provided for 15 rural electric infrastructure projects.  The projects will build or improve almost 2,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines for rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 13 states.  Click here for more information.
Continue Reading

Coops Fare Well in J.D. Power Utility Study

Several coops were highly ranked in the J.D. Power 2015 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.  Only 20 coops were reviewed for the study, which was limited to utilities with at least 100,000 residential customers, but many of those included scored well.  Click here for a link to J.D. Power’s report and here for more information on the performance of...
Continue Reading

Great River Energy Offers Electric Vehicle Users 100% Wind Charge at No Extra Expense

In June Minnesota-based generation and transmission cooperative Great River Energy (GRE) and its members rolled out their new “Revolt” program, which allows electric vehicle (EV) users to charge their vehicles using 100 percent wind energy at no extra expense.  Consumers pay standard rates to charge their cars, and GRE retires renewable energy credits to cover every kilowatt-hour of energy used for EV charging.  Click here to read more.
Continue Reading