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FERC Acts to Provide Relief and Ensure Reliability During Coronavirus Pandemic

On April 2, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) implemented sweeping changes to its Office of Enforcement, issued a Policy Statement, and took additional steps to provide guidance on energy infrastructure, market, reliability, and security matters during the coronavirus emergency.

Temporary Changes to Enforcement Program

Chairman Neil Chatterjee announced that FERC’s Office of Enforcement will be exercising prosecutorial discretion regarding enforcement events arising during the pandemic. Enforcement staff will take the coronavirus emergency into account when assessing the timeliness of self-reports, including the self-report credit under the Penalty Guidelines. Compliance program evaluation under the Penalty Guidelines will similarly be adjusted, as well as audits for operations taking place during the emergency. Additional changes to FERC’s Office of Enforcement include:

  • Entities with compliance obligations arising from completed enforcement cases will have flexibility for discovery-related or other deadlines through July 31, 2020.

  • No new audits will commence until July 31, 2020.

  • Enforcement staff will only contact entities regarding surveillance inquiries that involve market behavior likely to result in significant harm to the market.  Inquiries not requiring immediate attention will be postponed to a later date.

  • The deadline for FERC Form Nos. 552, 60, 61, as well as Electric Quarterly Reports (EQRs) has been extended to June 1, 2020.

  • The submission of self-reports regarding inadvertent errors or activity producing no significant harm to the market may be delayed by 60 days.

Additionally, Chairman Chatterjee announced the creation of two FERC staff task forces to expeditiously process standards of conduct waiver requests and no-action letters. 

Policy Statement on Business Continuity of Energy Infrastructure

FERC issued a Policy Statement announcing that it will expeditiously review and act on requests for relief in response to the coronavirus national emergency. FERC recognizes that regulated entities have had to implement new procedures, update and/or suspend existing procedures, and take other measures to adjust to the national emergency.  As such, FERC’s highest priority will be given to processing filings made for the purpose of ensuring business continuity of regulated entities’ energy infrastructure, including acting on requests for relief such as cost recovery necessary to ensure business continuity.

Additional Relief

FERC took additional steps to provide regulatory relief, including the following:

  • Issued order approving blanket waiver of tariff requirements for in-person meetings, as well as requirements to provide notarized documents on a temporary basis through September 1, 2020

  • Issued order temporarily delegating authority to:

    • The Director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation to act on uncontested requests for prospective waiver of certain regulatory obligations through June 1, 2020

    • The Director of FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation to act on motions for extension of time to file, or requests or petitions for waiver of the requirements of FERC Form No. 552 and FERC-730

    • Issued order extending time period for ISO/RTOs to post Uplift Reports to October 20, 2020

In addition, the FERC secretary issued a supplemental notice granting time extensions for certain non-statutory deadlines and shortening answer periods for motions for extensions of time.

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About this Author

Ruta Skučas Energy Electric Natural Gas Attorney

Ruta Skučas counsels her clients on energy issues, focusing primarily on electric and natural gas matters, before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), state and federal entities, including federal courts and state public utility commissions. Her clients range from financial institutions and power marketers to traditional utilities.

Ruta's clients benefit from her years of experience working at FERC. Following graduation from law school, she served as law clerk to several FERC Administrative...

Valerie L. Green Pierce Atwood Partner DC  Energy Energy Infrastructure Project Development  Finance Litigation

Valerie Green focuses her practice on natural gas, electricity, renewable energy, and regulatory and compliance issues involving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other administrative agencies. Clients rely on Valerie’s responsiveness, attention to detail, and deep knowledge of regulatory process and precedent in proceedings involving administrative litigation, compliance audits and investigations, and in appellate litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Valerie’s focus on coalition and consensus building in situations involving difficult, contentious issues frequently results in successful, advantageous settlements for her clients.

Valerie has extensive experience with a wide range of energy-related issues, including regulation under the Natural Gas Act, Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, the Federal Power Act, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, and FERC’s regulations implementing those statutory regimes. Valerie advises natural gas shippers on pipeline rate and tariff issues, and has advised natural gas pipelines on their rate cases, Standards of Conduct, FERC’s capacity release rules, and other regulatory issues.

Drawing on her deep knowledge of Independent System Operator and Regional Transmission Organization (ISO/RTO) tariffs and operations, Valerie regularly assists clients as they navigate electric transmission issues, and she protects her clients' business interests in the electric grid.

Maeve C. Tibbetts Pierce Atwood DC Associate Energy Infrastructure Project Development  Finance

Maeve Tibbetts focuses her practice on regulatory and enforcement matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and state public utility commissions. Maeve represents energy traders active in the ISO/RTO markets and counsels clients involved in formal and informal investigations by FERC's Office of Enforcement.  She also represents members of the Financial Marketers Coalition in stakeholder proceedings before PJM and other ISOs/RTOs.  Her clients include financial institutions, power marketers, electric and natural gas utilities, renewable energy firms, retail electric...

Randall S. Rich Pierce Atwood Partner DC Energy Energy Infrastructure Project Development & Finance

Randall Rich is the Leader of our Energy Practice Group and the partner-in-charge of the Washington, DC office. Throughout his over 38 years of experience, beginning in the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and continuing for more than 23 years at Bracewell, LLP, Randy always strives to form close personal bonds with clients as well as trusting relationships with both regulators and his colleagues in the energy bar. He gains an intimate understanding of the business and legal needs of clients by working for extended periods in their offices, hand-...

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