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Va Asserts Authority in Mini Case

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1995

The Virginia Corporation Commission has rejected claims that it has no jurisdiction over disputes involving attempts to municipalize electric service. The case involves a dispute between Virginia Electric and Power Co. and the City of Falls Church, VA. Virginia Power had lodged a formal complaint with the commission, alleging that the city intends to establish its own municipal distribution system by expropriating the utility's property "at will." When the commission opened a proceeding to investigate, the city refused to file responsive pleadings, claiming that the state constitution excludes municipalities from commission jurisdiction. The commission ruled that while it lacks automatic jurisdiction over cities, state law grants jurisdiction when a city seeks to acquire utility property by condemnation. It added, however, that it might find grounds to stay out of the argument if it appeared Falls Church could meet its obligation to assure continuous electric service to its citizens without direct condemnation of Virginia Power property. Virginia Electric Power Co. v. City of Falls Church, Virginia, Case No. PUE950017, May 24, 1995 (Va.S.C.C.).

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