Kansas Supreme Court to Hear Stevens County Case
Joe Denoyer - May 17, 2021 11:17 am
The Kansas Supreme Court will hear a case out of Stevens County. The Case will be heard on Wednesday May 26th at 11:00am. The case is Appeal No. 119,834: Richard L. Hanson, Circle H Farms LLC, Rome Farms LLC, Stegman Farms Partnership v. Kansas Corporation Commission and Texas-Kansas-Oklahoma Gas LLC
Stevens County: (Petition for Review) Various natural gas users filed a complaint with the Kansas Corporation Commission alleging their natural gas company had been consistently miscalculating the amount of gas it was providing them and overbilling them by 9.5%. The Commission recognized the company had engaged in this practice but declined to take meaningful remedial action because the rates the company charged were reasonable. The district court reversed, finding the company’s billing error was unfair, unjust, and unreasonable. The Court of Appeals found the KCC’s order conflated its rate-making duties with its other regulatory responsibilities and also that the KCC failed to take action when a company had consistently and continuously overcharged its customers for the natural gas they received. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s reversal of the KCC’s order regarding the company’s unfair practices. Because Kansas law vests the agency with the responsibility to determine the appropriate remedy, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the KCC to investigate and craft a remedy that balances the interests of the customers and the public. Issues on review are whether: 1) the Court of Appeals erred by not deferring to the KCC’s order, its factual findings, and its subject matter expertise regarding a complex area of public utility law, namely a gas public utilities billing practices and rates; 2) the Court of Appeals erred by finding the KCC’s decision was inadequate and then proceeding to rule on the merits without giving the KCC the opportunity to decide the issue or make additional findings and conclusions; and 3) the Irrigators’ failure to timely petition for reconsideration of a KCC order preclude review because K.S.A. 66-118b and K.S.A. 77-529(a)(1) expressly state that a timely petition for reconsideration is a “prerequisite” to judicial review.