Sutherland Coop Law Blog
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Basin Electric to Join the Southwest Power Pool

The Board of Directors of Basin Electric Power Cooperative (Basin Electric) has authorized the electric generation and transmission cooperative to join the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).  Subject to approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Basin Electric plans to integrate into SPP by October 1, 2015.  To read more, please click here.
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FERC Considers Approving New CIP Standards

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is considering approval of new Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards drafted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) under a FERC order.  Meanwhile, FERC is also suggesting that NERC revise the standards to potentially cover more grid facilities.  FERC is expected to issue a final rule on the standards in late 2014 or early 2015.  Click here for more information.
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Coop Agrees to Share Utility Poles with Google Fiber

Pedernales Electric Cooperative, a coop near Austin, Texas, and Google have reached an agreement that allows Google to use the coop’s existing utility poles to attach fiber-optic cables.  Click here to read the coop’s press release for more information.
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J.D. Power Survey Shows Coop Members Increasingly Satisfied

With questions focusing on price, reliability and customer service, J.D. Power surveyed more than 104,000 residential members about their experience with their local cooperatives.  Compared to last year, overall satisfaction levels increased.  Members of Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative and Sawnee EMC reported especially favorable levels of satisfaction.  Please click here for the full story
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Kentucky Coop Reaches $19.5 Million Settlement with Coal Supplier

Big Rivers Electric Corporation (Big Rivers) and coal supplier Oxford Resource Partners (Oxford) have agreed to a $19.5 million settlement to resolve a breach of contract suit against Big Rivers that began two years ago.  Even with the settlement payout, Big Rivers is positioned to save $41 million in fuel costs because it switched to a less expensive coal than that offered by Oxford.  Click here to read more about this story.
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U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund Announced With Initial $10 Billion in Available Capital

The White House Rural Council announced today at the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference the creation of the U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund (Fund), an investment fund intended to promote rural economic development.  CoBank, ACB, a cooperative bank serving agribusiness, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, has committed to invest $10 billion.  Additional investors will be recruited by the Fund’s manager, Capitol Peak Asset Management.  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies will help to identify...
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Florida Coop Dispute Rages On

Lee County Electric Cooperative has petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to take up its dispute with the city of Cape Coral, Florida regarding costs associated with moving utility lines and power poles for road projects.  Please click here to read more about this story.
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Texas Coop to Retire $4 Million in Capital Credits

South Plains Electric Cooperative (SPEC) announced that it has approved a capital credits refund of $4 million to its members.  To date SPEC has returned more than $28 million to its customer-members.  To read more, please click here.
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South Dakota PUC Rules in Favor of Basin Electric in Wind Power Case

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled unanimously to dismiss a claim against Basin Electric Power Cooperative (Basin Electric) and five distribution cooperatives brought by Prelude, a wind developer that was attempting to force the cooperatives to purchase power it plans to produce.  Prelude’s counsel attempted to argue that Basin Electric is not a cooperative under South Dakota law, but the PUC disagreed and stated that it did not have jurisdiction. To read more, please click...
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NRECA Joins Shippers in Calling on Congress to Act on Rail Reform

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is part of a coalition of shippers that renewed a year-long call for Congress to take action to reform the country’s freight rail system.  The coalition, which consists of 24 trade organizations, sent a letter to congressional leaders outlining a series of reforms meant to increase competition and lessen regulatory hurdles for shippers.  The groups cited “[u]nreasonable rate increases, service breakdowns, and diminishing competition” as some of the problems caused by the rail industry.  Click here to read more about this...
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Concerns Raised Over EPA Proposal for Upgraded Pollution Controls at Utah Coal Power Plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a requirement that Deseret Power Electric Cooperative install upgraded pollution controls at its Bonanza Power Plant in Utah.  A group of residents, businesses and community groups have raised concerns that the plant may be shut down if upgraded pollution controls are required.  Any shutdown would have a significant impact on employment near the plant.  Click here to read more about this developing story.
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Electric Coops Continue to Outperform other Electric Utility Sectors

Overall the electric utility industry has seen a fall in demand and sales over the past five years.  However, electric cooperatives have been outperforming other electric utility sectors, with median kilowatt-hour sales up by 3.13 percent in 2013.  To read more, please click here.
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USDA to Fund Electric System Improvements in Rural Areas

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will invest more than $250 million in loan proceeds to help improve the reliability of electric systems in rural areas in eight states.  A portion of the funds will be used to modernize the systems with smart grid improvements.  To read more about this story, please click here.
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New Mexico Coop Still Under Fire for Wildfire

More ranchers, this time from fly-fishing destination Cow Creek Ranch, have sued the Mora-San Miguel Electrical Cooperative (Mora-San Miguel) in state court over a 2013 wildfire.  The owners of two other Pecos Canyon ranches sued Mora-San Miguel over the same fire in March of this year.  The Washington Times has the full story.
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