The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Administrative Appeal Supreme Court Opinion

by Booth, George


SC20643 - Direct Energy Services, LLC v. Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ( Administrative Appeal; Whether Restrictions on Renewable Energy Program Violate Dormant Commerce, Free Speech or Contracts Clauses of Federal Constitution; Whether Plaintiffs Waived Constitutional Claims by Not Raising Them Before Agency; "This case requires us to decide, among other things, whether certain regulations imposed by the defendant, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), on energy suppliers within this state violate the dormant commerce clause of the United States constitution. In October, 2020, PURA imposed a series of restrictions on retail electric suppliers who offer customers of this state voluntary products consisting of renewable energy credits (RECs) bundled with electric supply. These products are known as voluntary renewable offers (VROs). The two restrictions relevant to this appeal are the geographic restriction and the marketing restriction. The geographic restriction prohibits VROs from containing RECs sourced outside of particular geographic regions. The marketing restriction requires that suppliers provide clear language informing consumers that a VRO backed by RECs is not "renewable energy" itself but, rather, an energy product backed by RECs.

The plaintiffs, which are all companies that desire to market and sell VROs to Connecticut electric customers, contend that the geographic restriction impermissibly discriminates against RECs created outside of the permitted geographic regions. The plaintiffs further contend that the marketing restriction impedes commerce in the national marketplace because it imposes a regulatory requirement inconsistent with those of other states. The plaintiffs also raise a number of other constitutional and procedural claims. For its part, PURA contends that the trial court correctly concluded that neither the geographic restriction nor the marketing restriction violates the dormant commerce clause because, among other things, the restrictions help advance this state's legitimate environmental policy goals and improve consumer transparency. As to the plaintiffs' remaining claims, PURA contends that the trial court correctly concluded that they are either unreviewable or without merit. We agree with PURA and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.")