Kiawah Property Owners Group v. PSC, No. 24997.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTOAL, Justice
Citation338 S.C. 92,525 S.E.2d 863
PartiesKIAWAH PROPERTY OWNERS GROUP, Appellant, v. The PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA and Kiawah Island Utility, Inc., Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. 24997.
Decision Date07 September 1999

338 S.C. 92
525 S.E.2d 863

KIAWAH PROPERTY OWNERS GROUP, Appellant,
v.
The PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA and Kiawah Island Utility, Inc., Respondents

No. 24997.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard June 22, 1999.

Decided September 7, 1999.


338 S.C. 93
Stephen P. Groves, Sr., Michael A. Molony and Stephen L. Brown, all of Young, Clement, Rivers & Tisdale, LLP, of Columbia, for appellant

G. Trenholm Walker, of Pratt-Thomas, Pearce, Epting & Walker, P.A., of Charleston; and Lucas C. Padgett, Jr., of McNair Law Firm, P.A., of Charleston, both for respondent Kiawah Island Utility, Inc.

F. David Butler, of Public Service Commission, of Columbia, for respondent The Public Service Commission of South Carolina.

TOAL, Justice:

This case is an appeal from the circuit court's order upholding the decisions of the Public Service Commission ("PSC"). We reverse and remand.

338 S.C. 94
FACTUAL/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Kiawah Island Utility, Inc. ("the Utility") provides water and sewer service to the residents of Kiawah Island. The Utility is wholly owned by Kiawah Resort Associates ("the Developer"). In July of 1996, the Utility applied to the Public Service Commission for an increase in its existing rates and charges for water and sewer service. The appellant, Kiawah Property Owners Group ("KPOG"), as well as the consumer advocate and the Town of Kiawah Island, intervened in opposition to the increase and participated in the Commission's proceedings.

Prior to the 1996 adjudication, the rates and charges of the Utility had been approved by the PSC in 1992. The Utility sought to increase its operating margin by 5.43%. After the hearings, the PSC issued an order granting the Utility an increase of only 3.55%. After the PSC's first order in January of 1997, KPOG and the consumer advocate filed a Petition for Rehearing and/or Reconsideration. In February 1997, the PSC issued its second order addressing the Petition for Rehearing and/or Reconsideration and upheld all of its earlier determinations.

Following the second order, KPOG appealed the PSC orders to the circuit court. In March 1998, the circuit court issued its opinion upholding the PSC. KPOG then appealed to this Court raising the following issue:

Did the circuit apply the appropriate level of review to transactions between the Utility and the Developer as these two entities are affiliated companies with the same management and therefore do not transact business at arms length?

LAW/ANALYSIS

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

KPOG argues that the circuit court applied the wrong level of review to the PSC's analysis of the transactions between the Developer and the Utility. We disagree.

KPOG argues a heightened standard is required where the Developer controls the Utility, the so-called intercompany

338 S.C. 95
transactions.1 This Court addressed intercompany dealings in Hilton Head Plantation Utilities, Inc. v. Public Serv. Comm'n of South Carolina, 312 S.C. 448, 451, 441 S.E.2d 321, 323 (1994), and stated
Charges arising out of intercompany relationships between affiliated companies should be scrutinized with care, and if there is an absence of data and information from which the reasonableness and propriety of the services rendered and the reasonable cost of rendering such services can be ascertained by the Commission, allowance is properly refused.

This language from Hilton Head does not create a "stricter" level of review as argued by KPOG. Normally, the expenses of an Utility are presumed to be...

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13 practice notes
  • In re Treatment and Care of Luckabaugh, No. 25503.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 22, 2002
    ...Video Game Machines, 338 S.C. 176, 525 S.E.2d 872 (2000); Kiawah Property Owners Group v. Public Serv. Com'n of South Carolina, 338 S.C. 92, 525 S.E.2d 863 (1999) (administrative law decision); Holcombe v. Hardee, 304 S.C. 522, 405 S.E.2d 821 (1991) (family court Appellants in State v. 192 ......
  • CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP v. Town of Limington
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • January 24, 2001
    ...v. Dist. of Columbia Dept. of Employment Servs., 742 A.2d 460, 465 (D.C.1999); Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of S.C., 338 S.C. 92, 525 S.E.2d 863, 865 [¶ 16] Third, the weight of authority in other jurisdictions supports a remand instead of an assumption that an agency has ......
  • Converse v. DHEC, No. 3479.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 15, 2002
    ...make sufficiently detailed findings supporting the denial of a permit application. See Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 338 S.C. 92, 95-96, 525 S.E.2d 863, 865 (1999). Detailed findings enable this court, as a reviewing court, to determine whether such findings are supported ......
  • Alltel Communications, Inc. v. South Carolina Dept. of Revenue, 2010-UP-232
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 7, 2010
    ...decision at face value without requiring the agency to explain its reasoning." Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of S.C., 338 S.C. 92, 96, 525 S.E.2d 863, 865 (1999). When an administrative agency's order fails to set forth the basis for its determination, the proper course of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • In re Treatment and Care of Luckabaugh, No. 25503.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 22, 2002
    ...Video Game Machines, 338 S.C. 176, 525 S.E.2d 872 (2000); Kiawah Property Owners Group v. Public Serv. Com'n of South Carolina, 338 S.C. 92, 525 S.E.2d 863 (1999) (administrative law decision); Holcombe v. Hardee, 304 S.C. 522, 405 S.E.2d 821 (1991) (family court Appellants in State v. 192 ......
  • CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP v. Town of Limington
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • January 24, 2001
    ...v. Dist. of Columbia Dept. of Employment Servs., 742 A.2d 460, 465 (D.C.1999); Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of S.C., 338 S.C. 92, 525 S.E.2d 863, 865 [¶ 16] Third, the weight of authority in other jurisdictions supports a remand instead of an assumption that an agency has ......
  • Converse v. DHEC, No. 3479.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 15, 2002
    ...make sufficiently detailed findings supporting the denial of a permit application. See Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 338 S.C. 92, 95-96, 525 S.E.2d 863, 865 (1999). Detailed findings enable this court, as a reviewing court, to determine whether such findings are supported ......
  • Alltel Communications, Inc. v. South Carolina Dept. of Revenue, 2010-UP-232
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 7, 2010
    ...decision at face value without requiring the agency to explain its reasoning." Kiawah Prop. Owners Group v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of S.C., 338 S.C. 92, 96, 525 S.E.2d 863, 865 (1999). When an administrative agency's order fails to set forth the basis for its determination, the proper course of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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