Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. v. Corporation Com'n

Decision Date19 December 1922
Docket Number13373.
Citation211 P. 401,88 Okla. 51,31 A.L.R. 330,1922 OK 366
PartiesOKLAHOMA NATURAL GAS CO. v. CORPORATION COMMISSION ET AL.
CourtOklahoma Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

A person enters the public business by professing or undertaking to serve the public; but his obligation to the public is limited by the extent of his profession.

Where a public utility has undertaken and professes to serve the inhabitants of certain cities and towns within the state with natural gas, the Corporation Commission has power, within constitutional and reasonable limitations, to compel such utility to serve all inhabitants thereof who may apply for such service.

The Corporation Commission is without power or authority to compel a public utility to furnish natural gas to a city town, or community which it has not undertaken or professed to serve, and which it is under no obligation to serve, since to require the utility to serve such city, town, or community would be tantamount to the taking of private property for public use without just compensation.

Appeal from Corporation Commission.

Proceedings by the Chickasha Gas & Electric Company and another against the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company. From an order of the Corporation Commission directing defendant to furnish natural gas to plaintiff for distribution, defendant appeals. Reversed.

Ames Chambers, Lowe & Richardson, of Oklahoma City, for appellant.

Bond Melton & Melton, of Chickasha, and Cottingham, Hayes, Green & McInnis, of Oklahoma City, for appellee.

NICHOLSON J.

The Chickasha Gas & Electric Company instituted this proceeding by filing with the Corporation Commission its petition praying an order of such Commission requiring the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company to furnish and supply the Chickasha Gas & Electric Company natural gas for distribution by it in the city of Chickasha. After a hearing, the Commission made and entered the order as prayed for, and from this order the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company has appealed.

The appellant, Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, is a public service corporation engaged in the business of furnishing natural gas to between 35 and 40 cities and towns in the state of Oklahoma. It owns the franchises in about 30 of these cities and towns, and in others, including Oklahoma City, El Reno and Muskogee; it furnishes gas for distribution by other companies; it owns and maintains a gas pipe line extending from the Duncan gas field north, through which it conveys gas to supply the towns and cities served by it. This pipe line is located near the city of Chickasha, and at a point in said line approximately 4 1/2 miles from the city limits of said city there is a T which may be used for connecting the line with a line into the city.

The Chickasha Gas & Electric Company is a public utility engaged in the business of manufacturing and distributing artificial gas in the city of Chickasha. In the month of October, 1921, it was by said city granted a franchise, authorizing it to use its gas line system for the purpose of distributing natural gas to the inhabitants of said city. Thereupon it constructed a gas pipe line from the city of Chickasha to a point near said T, in the pipe line of appellant, but this was done without any agreement upon the part of appellant to furnish gas. In fact, appellant had, prior thereto, refused to furnish gas to appellee, and has at all times maintained that it could not and would not furnish appellee with gas from its said pipe line. Upon the completion of said pipe line by appellee, it instituted this proceeding which resulted in the order complained of, and of which the appellant seeks a reversal upon two grounds, the first of which is that the Corporation Commission was without power, authority, and jurisdiction to make said order requiring appellant to furnish natural gas to a public utility, and to a community which it had never theretofore served, and which it had never assumed, undertaken, or professed to serve, and which it was unwilling to undertake to serve.

By the provisions of chapter 93, Sess. Laws 1913, the jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission was extended so as to confer upon it general supervision over all public utilities, and the appellant comes within the term "public utility," as defined by said act. Indeed, appellant does not contend otherwise. But, because appellant is a public utility over which the Commission has jurisdiction, does it necessarily follow that the Commission had the power to make the order complained of?

The appellant has never professed or undertaken to furnish gas to cities and towns or communities indiscriminately. It serves approximately 40 cities and towns in the state, all of which it has served for years, and to these it owes the public duty of continuing the service. It was for the sole purpose of obtaining gas with which to supply those it had undertaken to serve that it constructed its pipe line to the Duncan field. The appellant has never supplied the Chickasha Gas &...

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6 cases
  • Benwood-McMechen Water Co. v. City of Wheeling
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • June 20, 1939
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  • Oklahoma Gas & Elec. Co. v. Wilson & Co., Inc.
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  • In re Vance
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    • November 3, 1925
    ...241 P. 164 115 Okla. 8, 1925 OK 900In re VANCE et al. OKLAHOMA NATURAL GAS CO. v. SCOTT et al. Nos. 15802, 16143.Supreme Court of ... by the Court ...          The ... Corporation Commission has no authority to require a public ... utility to furnish ... ...
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