Opinion:Iochem Corporation v. Oklahoma Corporation Commission, 2020 OK CIV APP 28
Subject matter:Utilities; OCC
Date Decided:February 8, 2021; Mandate Issued: July 14, 2021
Trial Court:N/A
Route to this Court:Appeal from a Final Order of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC)
Facts:Iochem Corporation (“Iochem”) operates a plant near Vici, Oklahoma. The plant is located in the exclusive territory of Northwest Electric Cooperative (“NWEC”) as established by the Retail Electric Supplier Certified Territory Act (“RESCTA”). However, electricity is supplied to Iochem’s plant by OG&E via a private grid operated under the “One Megawatt Exception” to RESCTA. Iochem supplies its plant with brine produced from a number of wells in the area. One such well, the Sweet well, was being supplied electricity by NWEC when in 2018 Iochem decided, for economic reasons, to switch electrical service to the Sweet well from NWEC to Iochem’s private grid powered by OG&E. NWEC then initiated this action against OG&E, claiming a violation of the exclusive certified territory rule established under RESCTA. Iochem was allowed to intervene in the OCC action.
The ALJ sided with OG&E/Iochem, but the OCC rejected the ALJ’s recommendation and, en banc, found that the Sweet well was an “electric-consuming facility” that was being serviced by NWEC and OG&E is prohibited from furnishing, making available, rendering or extending service to the Sweet Well. Iochem appealed. 
Standard of Review:De novo, however, considerable discretion is vested in the OCC in the performance of its duties and its decisions are entitled to a “presumption of correctness”
Analysis:All of Iochem’s production wells, including the Sweet well, were single wells located or separated across multiple governmental sections and are interconnected by pipelines. “There was substantial evidence in this case to support the OCC’s determination that the Sweet well ‘was an electric-consuming facility.’” Given the purpose of RESCTA, the OCC’s finding was not contrary to law and was supported by substantial evidence. 
Vote:Prince, J. (author), Goree, P. J. and Mitchell, J. concur.
Other: Petition for certiorari denied 8-0.