Publications for Utility Law
A recent federal case may have a big impact on wind projects in Michigan. Very recently, a large wind turbine company (Duke Energy Renewables Inc.) pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to violating a federal law that protects migratory birds (the Migratory Bird Treaty Act [Bird Act]) in connection with the deaths of over 160 protected birds, including golden eagles, at the company’s wind projects in Wyoming. It is believed that this case represents the first ever criminal enforcement of the Bird Act for unpermitted bird killings at a wind farm.
Our June 2012 Municipal Law News noted that the Michigan Public Service Commission was investigating electric utility’s intent to deploy "smart meters." This article provides an update on that investigation.
A recent decision addressed the validity of the Michigan Public Service Commission's (MPSC) decision to allow Detroit Edison to increase its rates to pay for smart meters. There, the MPSC approved funding for Detroit Edison to pursue a plan to upgrade its meters.
The Michigan Legislature has moved forward on a new bill that would pre-empt local zoning when it comes to handling request to co-locate wireless telecommunications equipment on an existing tower.
Many municipalities in Michigan have recently received requests from their cable operators to start formal cable franchise renewal procedures under the Federal Cable Act, 47 USC § 521 et seq. Although federal law sets renewal procedures that provide for extensive local review of franchise agreements, Michigan law prohibits such local review.
A municipality may not condition providing utility services to tax-foreclosed property by demanding that a buyer of tax-foreclosed property pay delinquent utility-service charges that the former owners of the foreclosed property incurred.
The MDEQ lacks the power to require a township to install a sanitary sewer system where there is widespread failure of private septic systems resulting in contamination of lake waters.
It has long been the case that cities would force township residents to pay more for water service than city residents, despite the fact that it may not cost any more to provide the service.
A recent Michigan Supreme Court decision has held as unconstitutional a provision of Michigan statute which allowed assessors to treat public-service improvements, such as water, sewer or utility services, as "additions" for purposes of calculating taxable value.