ILNews

COA rules on public utility issues

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission finding United States Steel Corp. acted as a public utility when it delivered electricity and natural gas to another steel producer in northwestern Indiana.

U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal had an arrangement in which U.S. Steel would provide the electricity and natural gas to the Plate Mill located within the steel-making operation of U.S. Steel. The two companies swapped facilities within their respective industrial complexes, so ArcelorMittal began operating this mill. Electricity would originally come from Northern Indiana Public Service Company; U.S. Steel arranged with NIPSCO to transport natural gas from other producers to the mill, which was paid for by ArcelorMittal.

The steel producers filed an informal complaint, and later a formal complaint, with the IURC Consumer Affairs Division, seeking a determination that their actions didn’t violate any tariff, contract, or other utility law. NIPSCO filed a formal complaint that U.S. Steel had violated Indiana law and NIPSCO’s tariffs by selling electricity and gas service.

A final order of the IURC determined that U.S. Steel’s provision of electricity and transportation of natural gas to ArcelorMittal made U.S. Steel a public utility as defined by statute. Both U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal, as well as NIPSCO, appealed the order.

In United States Steel Corp., et al. v. Northern Indiana Public Service Co., No. 93A02-1006-EX-632, the appellate court determined the regulatory commission erred in determining that U.S. Steel’s delivery of electricity to ArcelorMittal made it a public utility under Indiana Code 8-1-2-1(a). The delivery of electricity for use at the mill did not amount to service directly or indirectly to the public. U.S. Steel provided electricity to only one customer located within its industrial complex pursuant to a special agreement, wrote Judge Paul Mathias. The commission also erred in concluding U.S. Steel had violated Indiana’s Service Area Assignments Act by selling electricity to ArcelorMittal within NIPSCO’s exclusive electric service area because U.S. Steel isn’t a public utility so it is not an electricity supplier.

The judges affirmed the commission on the issue of whether U.S. Steel acted as a public utility regarding the delivery of natural gas to ArcelorMittal at the mill. U.S. Steels activities fell under subsection 2 of I.C. 8-1-2-87.5(b), which says that anyone “engaged in the transportation of gas solely within this state on behalf of any end use consumer or consumers” is a public utility. As such, U.S. Steel’s resale of natural gas purchased from NIPSCO to ArcelorMittal violated NIPSCO’s tariff ban on resale.

The appellate court also affirmed the dismissal of the steel producers’ complaint against NIPSCO and held that the regulatory commission wasn’t required to address NIPSCO’s additional claims, which it chose not to do. They remanded for the commission to vacate the portions of its order regarding U.S. Steel being a public utility in the distribution of electricity.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT