FERC delegates authority to staff in absence of quorum

The delegation order also affirms that all pre-existing delegations of authority by the commission to its staff continue to be effective

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order delegating additional authority to agency staff to continue certain agency operations in the absence of a quorum of commissioners.

The delegation order also affirms that all pre-existing delegations of authority by the commission to its staff continue to be effective.

The delegation order takes effect Feb. 4, 2017, and the additional authority granted to agency staff will last until FERC again has a quorum and moves to lift the delegation order. The delegation period will not extend beyond 14 days following the date a quorum is re-established.

FERC anticipates not having a quorum for an indeterminate period, but has a continuing responsibility to carry out its regulatory obligations under the Federal Power Act, Natural Gas Act, and Interstate Commerce Act, among other statutes.

When regulated entities make rate filings under the FPA or NGA that, in the absence of FERC action, would take effect without suspension, refund protection or the ability for protesting parties to appeal, FERC's general practice has been not to allow that to happen. By issuing the order, FERC intends that to ensure that FERC staff has authority to prevent such filings from taking effect by operation of law during the no-quorum period.

The order outlines specific delegation of agency authority:

Rate and other filings: The Director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation can accept and suspend rate filings, and make them effective subject to refund and further order of FERC, or accept and suspend them, make them effective subject to refund, and set them for hearing and settlement judge procedures. For initial rates or rate decreases submitted under section 205 of the FPA, for which suspension and refund protection are unavailable, FERC staff is granted authority under section 206 to institute proceedings in order to protect the interests of customers.

Extensions of time: FERC staff can extend the time for action on matters where it is permitted by statute.

Waiver requests: The director of OEMR can take appropriate action on uncontested filings under the NGA, FPA and ICA, seeking waivers of the terms and conditions of tariffs, rate schedules and service agreements, including waivers related to capacity release and capacity market rules.

Uncontested settlements: The director of OEMR has authority to accept settlements not contested by any party or participant, including FERC trial staff.

FERC has canceled its February 16, 2017 agenda meeting, Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable. Acting Chairman LaFleur and Commissioner Honorable also have decided, in view of the lack of a quorum, to suspend subsequent monthly agenda meetings until further notice.

Unless otherwise announced, FERC will continue to hold previously scheduled meetings and events sponsored by FERC, including the joint meeting between FERC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on February 23, 2017, and the upcoming Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 workshop on March 30, 2017. FERC also will continue to announce and schedule future meetings, technical conferences and workshops as appropriate.

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