Duquesne Light Company v. Barasch

PETITIONER: Duquesne Light Company
RESPONDENT: Barasch
LOCATION: Pasco County Sheriff’s Office

DOCKET NO.: 87-1160
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

CITATION: 488 US 299 (1989)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1988
DECIDED: Jan 11, 1989

ADVOCATES:
Irwin A. Popowsky - on behalf of the Respondents
Peter Buscemi - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Duquesne Light Company v. Barasch

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1988 in Duquesne Light Company v. Barasch

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 11, 1989 in Duquesne Light Company v. Barasch

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in number 87-1160, Duquesne Light Company against Barasch.

Duquesne Light Company and its co-petitioner, Pennsylvania Power Company, are two utilities that provide electrical service in Western Pennsylvania.

In 1967, they joined a venture to construct seven nuclear-generating units.

Intervening events such as the Arab oil embargo and the accident at Three Mile Island, however, forced them to cancel plans for construction of four of these plants.

The utilities attempted to cover their expenditures for the preliminary work looking to build the plants through an increase in electrical rates to customers.

The Pennsylvania Utilities Commission allowed the increase, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed that decision.

It read a recently enacted Pennsylvania statute as disallowing any charge in the rates for construction of generating facilities which were not used and useful in service to the public.

We hold that nothing in the United States constitution requires that a utility necessarily be allowed to recover this sort of expenditures which Duquesne sought to recover here.

The utilities have not suggested that the rates they will be allowed are insufficient to compensate them for the cost of their capital on the risk on their business.

That the Act may be theoretically inconsistent with the balance of Pennsylvania's rate making approaches of no importance so long as the overall rate is fair.

We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Justice Scalia has filed a concurring opinion in which Justice White and Justice O'Connor have joined.

Justice Blackmun has filed a dissent.