Arco v. Utils. & Transp. Comm’n – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In Arco v. Utils. & Transp. Comm'n, 125 Wn.2d 805, 888 P.2d 728 (1995), several former industrial consumers sought review of the commission's order denying them a portion of a refund of overcharges incurred while they were retail customers of an LDC. There, the industrial consumers had chosen to become transportation-only customers.

There, while they were still retail customers, their LDC passed on some increased rates from its pipeline supplier. Later, when the final approved rates were lower, the pipeline paid refunds to the LDC.

The commission, after the industrial consumers ceased being retail customers, ordered the LDC to pass a portion of the refund on to current retail customers through a prospective rate reduction. The former industrial consumers were not allowed to share the prospective reduction unless they returned to the LDC as retail customers.

The former customers appealed, arguing they had a protectable property right to the refunds. And there, the court ruled the former customers had no reasonable expectation they would receive a refund of the rates at the time they paid them to the LDC.

The court ruled the former customers were not "overcharged" during the time the interim rates were temporarily allowed. 125 Wn.2d at 812-13.

The court also held there was no clear expectation there would be any refunds since the rates could have been approved in full. 125 Wn.2d at 812-13.