Sutherland Coop Law Blog
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Florida Supreme Court Declines Intervention in Utility Dispute

The Florida Supreme Court has decided not to take up the ongoing dispute between Lee County Electric Cooperative and the city of Cape Coral regarding the costs of moving utility lines and power poles due to a road project.  To read more about this story, click here.
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Colorado Gubernatorial Candidate Would Repeal Rural Renewable-Energy Mandate

Bob Beauprez, the GOP nominee for Colorado governor, told an audience of members of the National Federation of Independent Business that he would sign a bill repealing Senate Bill 252 if he were to win November’s gubernatorial election.  Senate Bill 252 doubled the amount of energy that rural electric cooperatives must generate from renewable sources by 2020, from 10 percent to 20 percent.  To read more about this story, please click here.
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Federal Court Sides with Coops over FERC’s Demand Response Request

A federal court rejected a request from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review its decision against a FERC demand response order.  FERC’s Order 745 issued in 2011 required that demand response participants in organized markets be compensated at full retail market price when they refrained from using electricity.  The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), along with others, joined the case and argued that FERC was acting outside its authority in issuing an order that would regulate retail rates directly by ordering utilities to pay retail customers not...
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Michigan Coop Asks FERC to Change Cost Order

Michigan’s Cloverland Electric Cooperative (Cloverland) has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reverse an order requiring Cloverland to pay potentially millions in costs for a plant from which Cloverland argues it derives no direct benefit.  When investor-owned utility We Energies decided to close its coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) concluded that the plant should stay online in order to ensure grid reliability.  FERC approved a plan developed by MISO and We Energies under which Wisconsin utilities paid 92...
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Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Says Texas Coop Must Pay Taxes on Steam Generator Equipment

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has ruled that South Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. and several other power providers must pay property taxes on their steam generator equipment.  The power providers argued that they were entitled to a state law exemption from ad valorem taxes which applies if the property is used to control pollution in compliance with state environmental regulations.  The power providers asserted that the heat-recovery steam generators substantially reduce Nox emissions. TCEQ disagreed and found that the steam generators were production equipment. ...
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Texas Coop Files Suit Over Interpretation of Purchase Agreement

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. filed suit against San Miguel Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Texas federal court on Thursday seeking interpretation of a power purchase agreement between the parties.  Under the agreement, Brazos purchases electricity from San Miguel’s 400-megawatt lignite-fired generating plant and associated mining facilities in Christine, Texas.  The dispute relates to the rates charged under the agreement and the scheduling of generation and delivery of power for 2015.  The case is Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. v. San Miguel Electric Cooperative Inc. et...
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New MultiSpeak Cybersecurity Standard Ready for Testing

MultiSpeak, an industry software interoperability standard developed in part by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, has expanded to include a new cybersecurity component that is now available for testing.  The cybersecurity standard is intended to help coops protect against data breaches by ensuring safer billing and other data-related processes.  Click here to read more.
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Coops among Recipients of USDA Rural Development Loans and Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $59 million in funding to support businesses and promote economic growth in rural communities.  Coops are among the recipients through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, which provides zero-interest loans to rural utilities that in turn lend to local businesses.  Click here for more information.
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Department of Energy Seeking Public Comment

The Department of Energy has requested public comment on their newly released draft Energy Sector Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Guidance and their draft Voluntary Code of Conduct for smart grid data privacy. Federal Register requests for comment are here: Framework Guidance here: Code of Conduct...
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Cost to Decommission Kansas Nuclear Power Plant Could Hit $1 Billion

The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant, partially owned by Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, could cost as much as $1 billion to decommission, according to reports that must be provided to the Kansas Corporation Commission periodically.  Costs will depend largely on the progress made by the federal government toward a solution for the long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel and the method of decommissioning chosen for the plant.  Click here to read more.
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City of Socorro Considers Coop Acquisition

The city of Socorro, New Mexico, is analyzing the estimated costs involved in acquiring Socorro Electric Cooperative (Socorro) within the city limits.  At least two-thirds of Socorro members must approve the sale should the deal move forward.  Click here to read the full story.
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CFTC Approves Exclusion for Utility Special Entities

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approved a final rule this week to exclude certain swaps used in utility operations from one threshold used to identify swap dealers.  The rule change will give counterparties additional flexibility to transact with utility special entities while avoiding the regulatory burdens associated with the “swap dealer” designation.  Power and gas companies will benefit because hedging remains a viable risk management tool for their business operations.  Please click here to read...
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Court Denies Review of FERC Demand Response Rule

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will not review en banc a three-judge panel ruling that rejected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s  rulemaking on demand response compensation.  The panel had found that Order No. 745 violates the Federal Power Act by impinging upon state jurisdiction over retail rates.  Please click here for more information (subscription required).
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Mild Summer to Dampen Debt Service Coverage Ratios

Mild summer weather conditions in much of the country could dampen year-end electric sales and contribute to declining debt service coverage ratios for the public power and electric cooperative sectors in 2014, Fitch Ratings says. Public power and electric cooperative credit ratings can withstand some variability in annual cash flow metrics from changing weather or economic conditions. To read more, please click here.
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