As we discuss in a separate blog post, FERC and NERC jointly announced yesterday they would consider the impacts of COVID-19 on the ability of operators of the bulk electric system to comply with the Reliability Standards. Today, FERC Chairman Chatterjee announced a suite of temporary operational changes taken by the agency in response to COVID-19.
FERC has also set up a web page for information on its coronavirus response. Here’s our take on how FERC’s operational changes will impact our clients.
- Deadline Extensions: The Office of the Secretary will extend the deadline for certain required, non-statutory filings that are due on or before May 1, 2020.
- Staffing/Public Meetings: Most Commission employees are teleworking and FERC’s headquarters is closed to all outside visitors, except by special arrangement.
FERC announced last week the cancellation of its regular monthly public meeting scheduled for March 19. Instead, the Commissioners will vote on orders notationally.
Even before this announcement, the FERC staff had been declining to schedule in person meetings with outside visitors and begun cancelling scheduled on-site facility inspections. Also, FERC staff were often asked to telework in recent years when protests of fossil fuel projects were anticipated to be held outside the FERC building.
- Enforcement Activities: All previously scheduled audit site visits and investigative testimony are being postponed and the Office of Enforcement will act expeditiously to grant extensions and waivers of compliance filings, forms and EQRs, as appropriate.
- Technical conferences: Those scheduled through May 2020 will be conducted via conference call or WebEx, or postponed, with new schedules posted to the FERC.gov calendar.
- Hearings: One hearing previously scheduled to start April 7, 2020 has been postponed. The Chief Administrative Law Judge will make case-specific calls on other hearings as their start dates approach. Settlement conferences will be via conference call.
Caroline Wozniak has been designated the Commission’s point of contact for all industry inquiries related to impacts of COVID-19 on their FERC-jurisdictional activities. She is currently the Senior Policy Advisor in FERC’s Office of Energy Market Regulation and prior to that served as an advisor to former Chairman Norman C. Bay.
Regulated entities can email questions to [email protected] to get prompt responses from the staff.
DWT will provide additional updates on this blog about FERC operational changes in response to the coronavirus, but feel free to reach out to a DWT professional if you have any questions about how these actions will impact your company.
The facts, laws, and regulations regarding COVID-19 are developing rapidly. Since the date of publication, there may be new or additional information not referenced in this advisory. Please consult with your legal counsel for guidance.
DWT will continue to provide up-to-date insights and virtual events regarding COVID-19 concerns. Our most recent insights, as well as information about recorded and upcoming virtual events, are available at www.dwt.com/COVID-19.