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Riggs v. Curran

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

June 7, 2016

BENJAMIN RIGGS, LAURENCE EHRHARDT, and RHODE ISLAND MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARGARET CURRAN, PAUL ROBERTI, and HERBERT DESIMONE, JR., in their official capacities as members of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission; NARRAGANSETT ELECTRIC COMPANY, INC. d/b/a NATIONAL GRID; and DEEPWATER WIND BLOCK ISLAND, LLC, Defendants.

          Benjamin Riggs, Plaintiff, represented by Andrew Rainer, Brody Hardoon Perkins Kesten, pro hac vice & J. William W. Harsch, J. William W. Harsch, Esq. & Associates.

          Laurence Ehrhardt, Plaintiff, represented by Andrew Rainer, Brody Hardoon Perkins Kesten, pro hac vice & J. William W. Harsch, J. William W. Harsch, Esq. & Associates.

          Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, Plaintiff, represented by Andrew Rainer, Brody Hardoon Perkins Kesten, pro hac vice & J. William W. Harsch, J. William W. Harsch, Esq. & Associates.

          Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC, Defendant, represented by Adam M. Ramos, Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP, Gerald J. Petros, Hinckley Allen & Robin-Lee Main, Hinckley Allen & Snyder.

          Margaret Curran, Defendant, represented by Leo J. Wold, Rhode Island Department of Attorney General.

          Paul Roberti, Defendant, represented by Leo J. Wold, Rhode Island Department of Attorney General.

          Herbert Desimone, Jr., Defendant, represented by Leo J. Wold, Rhode Island Department of Attorney General.

          Narragansett Electric Company Inc., Defendant, represented by Anthony J. Marchetta, Day Pitney LLP, pro hac vice, Joseph K. Scully, Day Pitney LLP & Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Day Pitney LLP, pro hac vice.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief District Judge.

         Before the Court are Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendant Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC ("Deepwater Wind") (ECF No. 14)[1] and Defendants Margaret Curran, Paul Roberti, and Herbert DeSimone, Jr., in their official capacities as members of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (collectively, the "PUC Defendants") (ECF No. 21). Plaintiffs filed Oppositions (ECF Nos. 22 and 23), and Deepwater Wind and the PUC Defendants both filed Replies (ECF Nos. 28 and 29). Additionally, the parties filed post-hearing memoranda. (ECF Nos. 37, 38, 39, and 40.) For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss are GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs are suing the PUC Defendants, Narragansett Electric Company, Inc. d/b/a National Grid ("National Grid"), and Deepwater Wind for injunctive and declaratory relief. They claim that the PUC Defendants violated the Federal Power Act ("FPA"), the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act ("PURPA"), and the Supremacy Clause and Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, when they issued an order on August 16, 2010, approving a power purchase agreement ("PPA") between Deepwater Wind and National Grid related to a new wind farm off the coast of Block Island (the "PUC's Order"). According to Plaintiffs, this agreement has above-market costs, which are in violation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's ("FERC") policies, and will result in a significant increase in their electric bills. Prior to filing this action, Plaintiffs twice petitioned FERC to initiate an enforcement action on the grounds that the PUC's Order violated the FPA, PURPA, and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. FERC declined to act on either petition, and Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in this Court one day short of five years from the date of the PUC's Order, on August 15, 2015. Defendants have moved to dismiss, arguing that the statute of limitations has expired and that Plaintiffs do not have standing. The PUC Defendants further argue that they are shielded by quasi-judicial immunity.

         II. Discussion

         The parties first dispute which statute of limitations applies to this action. Deepwater Wind asserts that the Court should apply Rhode Island's three-year personal injury statute of limitations, while Plaintiffs contend that the appropriate limitations period is five years pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2462, which they claim applies to the "enforcement ...


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