FERC Commissoners
On January 26, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission” or “FERC”) experienced virtually unprecedented change. The President named current FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur to serve as the acting chairman, replacing Norman C. Bay, who was to retain his seat on the Commission and serve as Commissioner through June 30, 2018. Hours later, however, former Chairman Bay tendered his resignation effective February 3, 2017. With two seats already vacant on the five-member Commission, the sum of these moves leaves the Commission without a quorum to conduct business as of February 3rd. The Commission has exercised authority under its enabling statutes and has codified in its regulations certain delegations of authority to Commission staff.

Absent exercise of delegated authority during the period when the Commission is lacking a quorum, a number of important filings may become effective or be denied by operation of law due to the lack of Commission action. Without a quorum, the Commission itself will not be able to take action on requests for rehearing (other than the issuance of tolling orders) or new or existing filings, or act on new or proposed rules. On January 23, 2017, the U.S. House of Representative passed H.R. 587, the Fair Ratepayer Accountability, Transparency, and Efficiency Standards Act (“Fair RATES Act”), to address, in part, the right of interested parties to pursue rehearing or judicial review of a rate change under the Federal Power Act that goes into effect by operation of law without FERC taking official action. In addition, U.S. SenatorLisa Murkowski issued a statement committing to make it a “top priority” to take the necessary actions to fill the Commission’s vacancies to “re-establish a working quorum on the Commission.” More information on the Fair RATES Act can be found here.

In a statement, Acting Chairman LaFleur acknowledged that FERC is in a current state of transition, but noted that “it is important that FERC’s work on the nation’s energy markets and infrastructure move forward.” Acting Chairman LaFleur has been a member of FERC since 2010 and has previously served as both acting chairman (from November 2013 to July 2014) and as chairman (from July 2014 to April 2015). Former Chairman Bay has served on the Commission since August 2014 and as chairman since April 2015. Commissioner Bay’s letter of resignation detailed the Commission’s accomplishments during his tenure as chairman. The letter of resignation is available here.

FERC’s news release is available here.

For more information, please contact Bob Weinberg, Jeff Genzer, Thomas Rudebusch, Michael Postar, Pete Scanlon, or Lisa Gast.