Coronavirus Update: FERC Acts to Prioritize Reliability, Provide Regulatory Relief
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today took action to prioritize reliability of the nation’s energy infrastructure and to provide the public and regulated entities relief from certain Commission regulatory obligations during the national emergency from the COVID-19 outbreak. The Commission previously announced several pandemic response actions, including creating a single point of contact, PandemicLiaison@ferc.gov, to serve as a resource to the regulated community so that they can receive prompt responses to their questions from FERC staff.
“The reliability and security of our nation’s vital energy infrastructure is critical to meeting the needs of the American people,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said. “The entities we regulate are taking unprecedented actions in response to the emergency conditions. These proactive steps will ease regulatory burdens so that they can focus on continuity of operations and ensure reliable operation of their systems.”
First, today the Commission issued a Policy Statement providing regulatory guidance on energy infrastructure, market, reliability and security matters.
In response to the national emergency conditions, entities regulated by the Commission have taken unprecedented actions that may disrupt, complicate, or otherwise change their normal course of business operations. The Policy Statement acknowledges that these actions may create questions about entities’ ability to meet regulatory requirements and/or recover the costs necessary to take steps to safeguard the business continuity of their systems.
The Policy Statement makes clear that the Commission will give highest priority to processing filings made for the purpose of assuring the reliable operation of energy infrastructure during this emergency and assures regulated entities that the Commission “will 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.”
The Commission also expressed support for the continued cooperation across industry and government to provide any additional safeguards necessary to ensure the reliable and secure operation of energy infrastructure.
In other action today, the Commission:
- 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.
The Secretary of the Commission today issued a supplemental notice granting extensions of time for certain non-statutory deadlines, waiving regulations and shortening answer periods for motions for extensions of time due to the pandemic emergency.
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