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PMC Property Group, Inc. v. Public Utilities Regulatory Authority

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

April 16, 2019

PMC PROPERTY GROUP, INC., ET AL.
v.
PUBLIC UTILITIES REGULATORY AUTHORITY ET AL.

          Argued January 15, 2019

         Procedural History

         Appeal from the decision of the named defendant finding that the plaintiffs had engaged in the unauthorized submetering of electricity and imposing sanctions, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Britain and tried to the court, Schuman, J.; judgment sustaining in part the plaintiffs' appeal, from which the plaintiffs appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          MichaelJ. Donnelly, with whom was Paul R.McCary, for the appellants (plaintiffs).

          Robert L. Marconi, assistant attorney general, with whom was George Jepsen, former attorney general, for the appellee (named defendant).

          Joseph A. Rosenthal, for the appellee (defendant Office of Consumer Counsel).

          Vincent P. Pace, for the appellee (defendant The Connecticut Light and Power Company).

          Jeffrey R. Babbin, for the appellee (defendant The United Illuminating Company).

          Lavine, Bright and Harper, Js.

          OPINION

          HARPER, J.

         The plaintiffs, PMC Property Group, Inc. (PMC), and Energy Management Systems, Inc. (EMS), appeal from the trial court's judgment affirming in part the decision of the defendant Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (authority), [1] which found that the plaintiffs had engaged in the unauthorized submetering[2] of electricity and, pursuant to that finding, imposed sanctions. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that the court erred in (1) deferring to the authority's definition of electric submetering where that definition was not time-tested with respect to the heating and air conditioning system at issue in this appeal and (2) affirming the authority's determination that the plaintiffs' use of the heating and air conditioning system constituted submetering of electricity. We affirm the judgment of the court.

         The following facts, as found by the authority and adopted by the trial court, and procedural history are relevant to our resolution of this appeal. PMC owns and is the property manager of a multifamily apartment building located at 38 Crown Street, New Haven. The apartment building has sixty-five residential apartments and one commercial unit (rental space). EMS provides billing services for PMC. In 2011, the plaintiffs renovated the building and installed a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, a division of Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA, Inc. (Mitsubishi).[3] The HVAC system is a heat pump system with heat recovery.

         Sensors and valves are installed in the indoor piping of each rental space and are used with computer software to measure the HVAC thermal use of each space. Each rental space has a thermostat to control its heating and cooling level, and is separately served through its own meter from The United Illuminating Company (electric company). PMC's electric service is measured through one electric company meter that supplies electricity to seven HVAC outdoor units and the common areas of the building. Two nonutility wattmeters installed after PMC's electric company meter measure the electricity used by the seven outdoor units and provide an input signal to an HVAC billing program.

         In March, 2012, PMC, acting through EMS, began billing each tenant for a portion of the seven HVAC compressors' electric use in proportion to the HVAC thermal use of the rental space of each tenant. On August 17, 2012, the Office of Consumer Counsel and the state attorney general filed a joint petition requesting that the authority investigate possible unauthorized submetering at PMC's apartment building. The authority conducted a hearing on November 19, 2012, and rendered a decision on June 5, 2013. In its conclusion, the authority ruled that PMC conducted unauthorized submetering at the building. The authority then entered an order providing that PMC shall immediately stop ...


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