City of Cohasset v. Minnesota Power, an Operating Division of Allete, Inc.Annotate this Case
After respondent was granted a permit by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (“MPUC”) for routing and construction of a pipeline to deliver natural gas to an energy center within appellant’s city limits, appellant commenced an action for declaratory and injunctive relief seeking to require respondent to obtain a franchise from appellant to operate the pipeline. The district court dismissed, concluding that appellant did not have franchise authority over respondent’s pipeline, and the appeals court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) a municipality is authorized by Minn. Stat. 301B.01 to impose a franchise on a public utility that has constructed and operates a gas pipeline located on public property within the municipality, regardless of whether the pipeline itself supplies gas to the public; (2) a municipality is authorized by Minn. Stat. 216B.36 to impose a franchise on a public utility that serves customers within the municipality or that uses public property within the municipality to serve customers elsewhere; and (3) the issuance of a permit by the MPUC for the construction of a gas pipeline does not preempt pursuant to Minn. Stat. 216G.02 a municipal ordinance requiring a franchise for the operation of the pipeline after construction is complete.