On July 6, 2020, FERC moved for a ninety-day stay of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s (“D.C. Circuit’s”) mandate in Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC. That decision upset FERC’s long-used practice of granting itself more time to consider requests for rehearing of its orders by issuing tolling orders (see July 1, 2020 issue of the WER). Although the decision was issued in the context of a pipeline proceeding under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”), FERC’s motion noted that the impact of the D.C. Circuit’s decision extends to all requests for rehearing under the NGA, and presumably to those under the Federal Power Act as well. In support of its motion, FERC explained that over the past fifty years, tolling orders have been a critical tool to help manage its large case load and bring its expertise to bear on complex technical matters before they are presented to the courts of appeals. FERC stated that a stay of the court’s mandate would afford it time to consider how to revise its processes and allocate its resources in the absence of tolling orders. FERC also argued that a stay would give it and the Solicitor General additional time to consider whether to petition the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, though it noted that the ultimate decision of whether to petition the Supreme Court lies with the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice.
Continue Reading FERC Moves to Stay DC Circuit’s Tolling Order Decision

On May 19, 2020 President Trump issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to “combat the economic consequences of COVID-19” by “rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery.”
Continue Reading President Trump Issues Executive Order Directing Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery from COVID-19

Due to the unprecedented and rapidly changing landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, FERC has provided multiple resources and notices over the last two weeks. Three of those relevant releases include an Epidemic/Pandemic Response Plan Resource, a policy statement providing guidance to oil pipelines impacted by the pandemic, and a notice that FERC is temporarily delaying the processing of all hardcopy submissions.
Continue Reading Update on FERC’s COVID-19 Response

On March 27, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied a petition for review filed by Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (“BG&E) arguing, among other things, that FERC’s application of its long-standing tax normalization policy to BG&E was arbitrary and capricious. The D.C. Circuit ultimately held that FERC reasonably explained its decision; however, the majority opinion also concluded that FERC cannot avoid its obligation to provide a reasoned explanation of contrary treatment of “similarly situated” parties merely because (i) prior orders were issued pursuant to delegated authority, or (ii) the prior orders were unopposed.   
Continue Reading Divided D.C. Circuit Weighs Precedential Value of FERC Staff Delegated Letter Orders in Rate Dispute

On March 27, 2020, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and senior FERC staff members began periodic meetings with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (“NARUC”), the National Association of State Energy Officials, and the National Governors Association to coordinate efforts to help ensure the reliability of the nation’s energy transmission and distribution systems during the coronavirus pandemic. FERC and NARUC are currently urging all state authorities to designate utility workers as essential to the nation’s critical infrastructure.
Continue Reading Update on FERC’s Response to COVID-19

On Thursday, March 19, in lieu of its monthly Commission meeting, FERC issued a Notice regarding its response to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (“COVID-19”) and the President’s March 13 declaration of a National Emergency.  Chairman Neil Chatterjee delivered comments about the Notice and the Commission’s operations in the coming weeks and months.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice on Commission Operations During COVID-19 Emergency

At FERC’s monthly meeting held on January 23, 2020, Commissioner Bernard L. McNamee announced he will not seek reappointment as commissioner after his current term ends on June 30, 2020. Commissioner McNamee indicated that he will serve through the end of his term or later, if needed to help maintain a quorum at FERC in 2020.

Continue Reading Commissioner McNamee Announces He Will Not Seek Reappointment

On December 2, 2019, FERC staff (“Staff”) issued its annual report (“Report”) on demand response and advanced metering, a high-level review of demand response potential in the retail and wholesale markets. In the Report, Staff highlights that: (i) advanced meters account for more than half of all meters in operation in the United States, (ii) multiple states have received approval for, or proposed, advanced meter deployment programs, (iii) many state regulators appear to support advanced meter investments, and (iv) from 2017 to 2018, there was an almost 8% increase in the overall demand response participation in wholesale markets.
Continue Reading FERC Staff Issues 2019 Assessment of Demand Response and Advanced Metering

On November 14, 2019, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“Committee”) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dan Brouillette as Secretary of Energy. Mr. Brouillette is currently DOE’s Deputy Secretary, and has been nominated by President Trump to replace outgoing Secretary Rick Perry.
Continue Reading Nominee for DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette Testifies Before Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources