Sara Bergan Discusses Federal Court Ruling on Minn. Legislation Limiting Utility Transactions that Increase CO2 Emissions


Attorney Sara Bergan authored an article in Intelligent Utility magazine titled “Federal court uncovers utility sector secret: electrons don’t follow rules.” The article discusses a federal court ruling on Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (the “Act”) and the reasoning of the judge, who used physics rather than more usual legal reasons to back her decision to declare unconstitutional two of the three parts of the Act. 

Federal district judge Susan Nelson declared unconstitutional under the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution parts of the Act that prevented the importation of power from a new large energy facility or the entering into a new long-term power purchase agreement, if either contributed to statewide power sector CO2 emissions. The judge argued in her decision that interstate commerce was unduly burdened because once electrons are injected into the electrical grid, which may occur from states outside Minnesota, it is impossible to know where they originated, meaning the Act effectively regulated conduct taking place outside the state.

Read “Federal court uncovers utility sector secret: electrons don’t follow rules,” published on May 19, 2014. (Subscription required.)

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