Court drops utility’s challenge to FERC reconnect order for Iowa farm 

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A federal appeals court today dismissed a request by a Midwest electric utility to overturn a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order requiring it to reconnect with a farm that refuses to pay for electricity.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that it does not have authority to review the FERC order at issue in Midland Power Cooperative v. FERC.

Midland Power and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association were seeking to overturn a 2011 FERC order involving a dispute between the small utility and Gregory and Beverly Swecker.

The Sweckers own a small farm that has a wind generator on its property. The generator qualifies as a facility that produces electricity to sell to Midland Power.

For years, the Sweckers and Midland disagreed over how much Midland Power should pay them for that electricity. Eventually, the Sweckers refused to pay Midland Power for retail power out of protest. By the fall of 2011, they claimed Midland Power owed them $60,000.

Midland Power claimed that the couple had an unpaid bill totaling $600 and began procedures to disconnect the farm from its infrastructure.

The disconnection severed both retail power sales from Midland Power to the Sweckers and the flow of electricity from the Sweckers’ wind generator to Midland Power. The couple filed an appeal to FERC seeking reconnection, and FERC complied in 2011.

Midland Power challenged that order, but the D.C. Circuit held that it lacks jurisdiction to consider the petition for review.

Click here to read the opinion.