Public utility creditor, PacifiCorp d/b/a Rocky Mountain Power (“PacifiCorp”), supplied electrical energy to the Debtor, Escalera Resources Co. (“Escalera”), before and after the Debtor sought protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. PacifiCorp filed an Application under 11 U.S.C. § 503(b)(9) seeking approval of an administrative expense priority claim for the value of the electrical energy supplied by PacifiCorp to the Debtor during the 20-day period prior to the bankruptcy petition date. The Debtor opposed the Application arguing that electrical energy does not constitute “goods” under Section 503(b)(9). The issue is of first impression for federal courts within the geographical bounds of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
The Court focused on the plain meaning of the word “goods” within the statutory framework. Since the term is not defined in the Bankruptcy Code, the Court analyzed the ordinary and legal meaning of the word “goods” in dictionaries and under a variety of legal regimes including the Uniform Commercial Code, federal antitrust law, federal labor law, federal energy regulatory law, state tort law, tax law, and international treaties. Informed by those sources, the Court ultimately adopts the definition of “goods” in the UCC Section 2-105 for purposes of Section 503(b)(9) and determines that electrical energy constitutes “goods” within the ambit of Section 503(b)(9). Accordingly, the Court granted administrative expense priority status for the value of electrical energy supplied by PacifiCorp to the Debtor during the 20-day period prior to the bankruptcy petition date.