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Idaho Power Co. v. Tidwell

Supreme Court of Idaho

December 28, 2018

IDAHO POWER COMPANY, Applicant-Respondent,
v.
KIKI LESLIE A. TIDWELL, Intervenor-Appellant, and IDAHO PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION, Respondent.

          Appeal from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

         The decision of the Commission is affirmed.

          Linnet Law Office, PLLC, Hailey, for Appellant. Samuel L. Linnet argued.

          Hon. Lawrence Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for Respondents. Edith L. Pacillo argued.

          HORTON, JUSTICE.

         Kiki Leslie A. Tidwell appeals an order by the Idaho Public Utility Commission (the Commission) denying her request for intervenor funding. The underlying administrative proceeding involved an application by the Idaho Power Company (Idaho Power) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct a high-voltage electric transmission line in Blaine County. The Commission granted Tidwell's petition to intervene in December 2016. In September 2017, Tidwell submitted a request for intervenor funding, which the Commission denied as untimely. Tidwell filed a petition for reconsideration, which the Commission also denied. Tidwell timely appealed. We affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On November 8, 2016, Idaho Power applied to the Commission for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to build a high-voltage electric transmission line in Blaine County. The Commission subsequently initiated an administrative proceeding-designated as Case No. IPC-E-16-28-to consider Idaho Power's application and established a deadline for interested parties to intervene in the case.

         Tidwell timely filed a petition to intervene in the case in December 2016. Tidwell asserted that the proposed transmission line would directly impair the value of her property. The Commission granted Tidwell's petition to intervene that same month. The Commission also granted additional petitions to intervene, including a petition by the Sierra Club.

         The Commission held a technical meeting in Boise on August 8, 2017, to take evidence regarding Idaho Power's application. This was the last evidentiary hearing in the case. Tidwell and her attorney attended the meeting. Near the end of the meeting, Commissioner Anderson stated: "Intervenor funding requests under Rule 164 are due 14 days from today." Tidwell did not hear this announcement.

         The Sierra Club timely submitted a request for intervenor funding on August 21, 2017. This was the only request for intervenor funding received by the Commission prior to the August 22, 2017 deadline, which Commissioner Anderson had announced. The Sierra Club's request stated: "This request is timely pursuant to the Commission's instruction at the technical hearing to submit such requests within 14 days by August 22, 2017." The Sierra Club emailed a copy of its request for intervenor funding to Tidwell's attorney on August 21, 2017.

         The Commission issued a final order on September 15, 2017, granting Idaho Power's application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct the transmission line. This final order also granted the Sierra Club's request for intervenor funding.

         On September 16, 2017, Tidwell submitted an intervenor funding request to the Commission requesting reimbursement of the $18, 538.47 that she had paid her attorney. Tidwell's request was received by the Commission on September 20, 2017. Tidwell's request stated: "I was not aware of the possibility of Intervenor funding under Idaho Code 61-617A; my attorney never presented me this information." Tidwell's request also stated: "I apologize that this request is being submitted late due [to] the lack of communication to me that this compensation was available to me as an Intervenor."

         The Commission denied Tidwell's request on October 12, 2017, explaining:

The Commission received Ms. Tidwell's late petition for intervenor funding on September 20, 2017. In her request, Ms. Tidwell states, "I was not aware of the possibility of Intervenor funding." The Commission notes that Ms. Tidwell attended the technical hearing conducted on August 8, 2017. Ms. Tidwell was present when Chair Anderson stated, "Intervenor funding requests under Rule 164 are due 14 days from today." Ms. Tidwell's petition was received almost a month after the deadline. Accordingly, we deny the petition as untimely.

         Tidwell timely petitioned the Commission to reconsider its order denying her request for intervenor funding. The petition for reconsideration retracted Tidwell's earlier acknowledgement that ...


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