Federal Preemption Blocks Municipal Condemnation
A U.S. District Court (Eastern District, Oklahoma) has ruled that the City of Stilwell's attempted condemnation of Ozark Electric Cooperative facilities and customers within an annexed area of the city's corporate boundaries was preempted under federal law. The court found that allowing the city to "skim the cream" of the co-op's service area would frustrate the Rural Electrification Act's (REAct's) objective of providing reliable and affordable electric service to rural America. The court said that the facts in the case closely matched those of a 1994 decision by the Fifth Circuit, Morgan City v. South Louisiana Electric Co-op, 31 F.3d 319. The Fifth Circuit Court had also ruled that a municipal condemnation would frustrate the REAct's purpose. Re Stilwell, Oklahoma v. Ozarks Rural Electric Co-op et al., No. 94-293-S, Nov. 4, 1994 (E.D. Okla.). t
Phillip S. Cross is an associate legal editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
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