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Readout: April 8, 2020

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Readout from FERC COVID-19 Pandemic conference call with NASUCA

Today, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and FERC senior staff members convened a conference call with the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA).

The call provided the consortium of consumer advocates with an update on FERCís efforts and Commission actions since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of the country into telework status. The Directors of FERCís Office of the Executive Director (OED), Office of Energy Market Regulation (OEMR), Office of Electric Reliability (OER), and Office of Energy Infrastructure Security (OEIS) and staff from the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation (OEPI) provided updates on actions taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chairman Chatterjee provided opening remarks during todayís call, stressing the importance of engaging our partners to ensure that everyone continues to have reliable access to vital resources like electricity and natural gas at a reasonable cost. The opening remarks were followed by FERC staff providing an overview of the agencyís operating status, and actions FERC has taken to respond to the to the COVID-19 pandemic. That was followed by a Q&A session for call participants with FERC staff.

Anton Porter, FERCís Executive Director, stressed that FERC remains fully functional via its telework capabilities with more than 1,400 employees nationwide working remotely. OED established an emergency response team that provides frequent updates to staff on all things COVID-19 related, acts as a support center for staff who have questions or concerns, and works to coordinate responsive action based on the data it collects.

Caroline Wozniak, FERCís Pandemic Liaison, highlighted her appointment to the position and the work her team has done to timely respond to industry inquiries related to the pandemic.

Anna Cochrane, Director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation, highlighted recent actions taken by the Commission to facilitate social distancing by granting a blanket waiver of in-person meeting requirements and the requirement to provide notarized documents and other actions such as the Commissionís recent policy statement on the prioritization of filings made for the purpose of assuring the reliable operation of the grid.

Aileen Roder, Attorney Advisor to the Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, indicated that the office continues to work on rulemakings, engage with market monitors, and plans to continue to host technical conferences, albeit virtually.

Andrew Dodge, Director of the Office of Electric Reliability, indicated that FERC has maintained regular communication with the RTOs and ISOs and that we currently do not anticipate the COVID-19 pandemic to affect the reliability of the Bulk Electric System. Additionally, FERC has regularly collaborated with NERC and taken concrete steps to utilize opportunities of regulatory flexibility to minimize the impacts of the coronavirus on operations while maintaining the reliability of the grid.

Joseph McClelland, Director of the Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, highlighted the collaborative efforts that FERC has taken in conjunction with its federal, state, and industry partners during this pandemic. FERC is actively participating with DOE and DHS in interagency and industry forums such as the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council and recently issued a joint statement with NARUC encouraging the designation of critical infrastructure employees as essential workers.

Larry Parkinson, Director of the Office of Enforcement, noted that all of FERCís enforcement capabilities remain fully functional and we continue to engage with the market monitors to ensure that our competitive energy markets are properly functioning. OE has also taken measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by cancelling in-person audits and testimony and declining to initiate any new audits until July.

FERC Chairman Chatterjee expects to do more of these calls as the pandemic continues, to provide further updates and to discuss areas of mutual interest.

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