COA rules on public utility issues

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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.


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.