Utilities law is an incredibly broad area encompassing many different practice areas. Issues involving real property law, contracts, and even personal injury can add layers to utility matters. An experienced Indiana utilities law attorney has insight into the positions and needs of all parties to utility matters, from utility companies to individual consumers and property owners. When looking for a Carmel Fishers utilities lawyer, businesses and individuals alike call Camden & Meridew, P.C.
What an Indiana Utilities Law Attorney Does
Utilities companies provide services that are increasingly considered basic needs. Few households or businesses lack electric, water, or telecommunications services in one form or another. The companies that provide these services are governed by special regulatory and statutory provisions that do not pertain to other businesses. And disputes involving utilities matters can implicate additional legal practice areas. A utilities law attorney is specifically suited to handling the issues that arise for utilities companies and in utility-related matters and disputes.
Types of Utilities in a Carmel Fishers Utilities Lawyer’s Practice
Utilities companies may be either private, public, or a hybrid mix of the two. For example, Indianapolis’ water utility, Citizens Energy Group, is a public-private partnership pin the form of a public trust, but Fishers’ electric utility, Center Point Energy (formerly Vectren) is a sizeable public company serving multiple states. Examples of common types of utilities include the following:
- Natural gas;
- Sewage (private rural, sewage disposal, sewer trackers);
- Waste removal (garbage, recyclables); and
- Telecommunications and video (Internet, telephone, and cable services).
Sometimes multiple utilities (or a utility and a consumer) need to coordinate communications and efforts. For example, a new subdivision requires the development of infrastructure for telecommunications, water, and sewage lines. When these parties don’t work cooperatively or one or more parties has a dispute with another, an Indiana utilities lawyer has the unique insight and knowledge needed to resolve the dispute.
Types of Claims Involved in Utilities Law Cases
As noted above, disputes involving utilities are not unusual. Problems may arise between different utilities, a utility and a municipality, or a utility and one or more consumers. Following are examples of the types of claims an Indiana utilities law attorney may be called to handle:
- Disconnection claims;
- Rate disputes;
- Fee disputes;
- Property damage claims;
- Easement issues;
- Broken water main issues;
- Downed wires;
- Tree-trimming concerns;
- Discrimination claims (such as utility rate discrimination); and
- Right to service issues.
Working with an attorney who has experience in utilities law means your lawyer is well-versed in the special laws and regulations that govern utilities in Indiana.
For example, damage by an excavator of underground telephone cables implicates Indiana’s Damage to Underground Facilities Act (DUFA) at Indiana Code chapter 8-1-26. If the excavation was on pubic easements and rights of way, the matter is further complicated by involving a municipality. Utilities and consumers alike benefit from seeking counsel with an in-depth understanding of Indiana utility law for more efficient and effective resolution of the matter at hand.
Indiana Utility Law: Agencies, Associations, and Regulations
Knowing where to go when dealing with utility law issues in Indiana is a whole lot easier when you have an Indiana utilities law attorney to advise you.
Indiana law on utilities matters is found in both the Indiana Code and in regulations in the administrative code. The Indiana General Assembly created the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to handle utility regulatory matters in Indiana. The IURC makes sure that utilities are reliable and that utility services are reasonably priced. Because of its technical expertise related to utilities, the IURC not only creates the regulations and administers those regulations but it also acts as “judge and jury” in rate cases that appear before the IURC.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is a state agency that represents the interests of ratepayers, consumers, and the public in matters related to utilities. The OUCC provides tips, links, statistics, and information about legal cases to consumers to keep consumers informed on issues such as efficient utility usage and recent litigation matters.
At the national level, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) is the entity that makes sure that the states offer reliable utility service at fair, just, and reasonable rates.
An experienced Indiana utility law attorney helps both utilities and consumers resolve disputes regarding utilities services and the utilities themselves.
Where to Turn for Help with Utility Law Issues in Indiana
As with other areas in the law, it is important to pay attention to time limitations and filing requirements when attempting to take legal action related to utilities law disputes. An attorney can help you watch for time constraints imposed by statutes of limitations, for example, and can help you make sure you notify and name the right parties when contemplating a lawsuit. Corey R. Meridew of Camden & Meridew, P.C. has significant practice experience with utility law cases. His strong litigation background and comprehensive understanding of matters faced by utilities and in utilities cases help his clients problem-solve and resolve matters effectively and efficiently. Whether you need help with IURC regulatory matters or private disputes implicating utilities law, Corey has litigated hundreds of claims and can provide the immediate help you need. To get real help, fast, from an Indiana utilities law attorney, call 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form for a consultation.