June 14th, 2015

Bailey & Glasser Secures Utility’s Right to Serve Existing Customer

In complex litigation, a utility’s right to continue serving an oil field was confirmed.

A 47-year-old service area agreement was the centerpiece of a dispute between Ameren Illinois and Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The co-op argued the agreement, which established service boundaries for new customers meant it should have been given the business when the owner of an oil field and gas plant ramped up operations.

The administrative law judge hearing the case decided differently, issuing an order that will be forwarded to the full state Commerce Commission.

“This was an arcane complex commercial regulatory litigation involving a Fortune 500 company,” said Scott Helmholz, an attorney at Bailey & Glasser’s Springfield, Illinois, office. “There was a lot at stake. This is one of the largest oil fields in Illinois, and it’s important the utility was able to maintain its relationship with this customer.”

Helmholz represented Ameren in the proceedings, which involved complex issues regarding the regulation of electricity and also required a detailed understanding of the oil and gas industry.

The decision turned on what could be considered existing customers and points of delivery at the time the agreement was finalized in 1968, as well as the fact that the owner of the oil field used its own electrical distribution system powered by a substation.