Gearheart, et al. v. Public Utility Comm’n of Oregon, et al.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 10-02-2014
  • Case #: S061517
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Balmer, C.J. for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Public Utility Commission of Oregon had the authority on remand to reexamine previous rates, order a refund to post-2000 ratepayers, and allow PGE to recover interest on the facility investment.

On review was an order of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) that previously responded to court remands regarding Portland General Electric (PGE). In 1976, PUC allowed PGE to recover its investment in the Trojan nuclear generating facility over a 35-year time span. Before the 35 years had elapsed, the facility shut down. PUC determined that PGE could still recover a return on their investment in the facility. The court of appeals reversed, and on remand the parties reached a settlement and PUC set new rates. The Utility Reform Project filed a complaint based on PUCs new rates, and the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded PUC’s order. On remand PUC ordered PGE to refund certain rate payers, including interest, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals and the order of the PUC, reasoning that PUC did not exceed their authority to take the actions in the order. In particular, PUC had the authority on remand to (1) reexamine previous rates; (2) order a refund to post-2000 ratepayers; and (3) allow PGE to recover interest on the facility investment. Affirmed.

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