• Public Service Commission Affirms Hearing Officer’s Decision in Carroll EMC Territorial Act Dispute
  • June 2, 2015 | Authors: Matthew J. Bowness; Benjamin C. Morgan; James A. Orr
  • Law Firm: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP - Atlanta Office
  • The Georgia Public Service Commission (the PSC or Commission) recently adopted a hearing officer’s initial decision in a “reconstruction in substantial kind” case under Georgia’s Territorial Act. That case, previously reported on October 7, 2014, involved a territorial dispute between Carroll EMC and Georgia Power over the right to serve the Southwire plant in Carrollton, Georgia.

    The Southwire plant formerly belonged to Sony and had been purchased by Southwire in 2013. Carroll EMC had served the Sony plant since it opened in 1980. After purchasing the plant, however, Southwire contracted with Georgia Power for electric service. Carroll EMC disputed Georgia Power’s right to serve the plant. However, a PSC hearing officer rendered an initial decision in favor of Georgia Power, and the full Commission recently agreed.

    After purchasing the plant, Southwire undertook a substantial renovation and expansion project at a cost of $47.6 million. Georgia Power argued that the substantial renovation of the plant made it an entirely new premises, thereby allowing Southwire to select Georgia Power as its electrical service provider. Carroll EMC disagreed, arguing that it had the exclusive right to serve the Southwire plant, and the matter was brought before the PSC.

    On September 17, 2014, the hearing officer rendered an initial decision concluding that Georgia Power had the right to serve the plant. On October 15, 2014, Carroll EMC filed an application for full Commission review of the hearing officer’s initial decision. The Commission adopted the hearing officer’s initial decision on March 30, 2015. In so doing, the Commission found that the evidence showed that the Sony plant had been destroyed or dismantled because the modifications made by Southwire rendered the plant unsuitable for its prior purpose, and because Southwire had systematically removed the facilities, equipment and furnishings from the plant, including all of the production-related electrical infrastructure.

    The Commission also found that the reconstructed plant was not in substantial kind to the old Sony plant because it was not “largely . . . of the same fundamental nature or quality as the previous facility.” As a result, the Commission agreed that Southwire had the right to select Georgia Power as its electrical service provider.

    Carroll EMC has appealed the Commission’s decision to the Fulton County Superior Court.