Locke Lord QuickStudy: FERC Issues Guidance to Regulated Entities Regarding COVID-19 Impacts

Locke Lord LLP
April 2, 2020

On April 2, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a series of releases to guide regulated energy companies in managing their regulatory responsibilities during the COVID-19 emergency.

Regulatory Relief

FERC took the following steps to ease regulatory burdens so that regulated entities can focus on continuity of operations and ensure reliable operation of their systems:

  • Facilitated social distancing by approving a blanket waiver of requirements in Open Access Transmission Tariffs that require entities to hold meetings in-person and to provide or obtain notarized documents. The waiver will remain in place through September 1, 2020.

  • Prioritized efficient processing of requests for waiver and other requests for relief made in response to the emergency conditions created by COVID-19 by:

    • Delegating authority to the Director of FERC’s Office of Energy Market Regulation to act on uncontested requests for prospective waiver of certain regulatory obligations. This delegated authority is effective until June 1, 2020.

    • Approving an Instant Final Rule delegating authority to 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 (Annual report of Natural Gas Transactions) and FERC-730 (Report of Transmission Investment Activity).

  • Extended the time period for Regional Transmission Operators and Independent System Operators to post all Uplift Reports and Operator Initiated Commitment Reports. The time period for all reports that otherwise would have been required to be posted between April 2020 and September 2020 is extended to October 20, 2020.

  • Indicated that FERC Enforcement staff will not begin any new audits until July 31, 2020 and that Enforcement staff will only contact entities regarding surveillance inquiries that involve market behavior that could result in significant risk of harm to the market and thus require immediate attention. Inquiries not requiring immediate attention will be postponed to a later date.

  • Issued an extension to June 1, 2020 for Form Nos. 552, 60, and 61, as well as Electric Quarterly Reports.

  • Stated that entities may delay for 60 days the submission of self-reports that involve inadvertent errors producing no significant harm to the markets, ratepayers or other market participants.

  • Suspended certain standards of conduct posting requirements in the Commission’s regulations. Under those regulations, if an entity faces a disruption for more than one month and cannot resume standards of conduct posting obligations as a result of COVID-19, it should file a waiver request.

Policy Statement

FERC also issued a Policy Statement indicating that it will:

  • recognize that regulated entities may need to implement new procedures, update and/or suspend existing procedures, and take other measures to safeguard the business continuity of their systems;

  • give highest priority to processing filings made for the purpose of assuring the reliable operation of energy infrastructure during this emergency; and

  • expeditiously review and act on requests for relief, including but not limited to, requests for cost recovery necessary to assure business continuity of the regulated entities’ energy infrastructure in response to the national emergency.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center often for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.