FERC delegates authority to staff in absence of a quorum

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By Scott DiSavino

<span class="articleLocation”>The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC) on Friday issued an order delegating further authority to
its staff in absence of a quorum on the Commission starting Feb.
4.

FERC needs at least three of the five commissioners to have
a quorum. It will only have two commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur
and Colette Honorable, once commissioner Norman Bay leaves on
Friday.

Last week, President Donald Trump appointed LaFleur as
acting chairman, which prompted Bay, the former chairman, to
announce he would step down on Feb. 3.

Changes at the top of FERC prompted several energy firms to
request the agency make decisions this week on proposed natural
gas pipelines to avoid potential construction delays.

FERC on Thursday approved construction of Energy Transfer
Partners LP’s Rover gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to
Ontario.

Other companies hoping for decisions this week include units
of Spectra Energy Corp on the Nexus pipeline,
Williams Cos Inc on Atlantic Sunrise,
TransCanada Corp on Leach and National Fuel Gas Co on Northern Access.

As part of the delegation to the staff, FERC said the
Director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation can accept
and suspend rate filings, take action on uncontested filings and
can accept settlements not contested by any party.

The Commission said on Friday it “anticipates that it will
lack a quorum for an indeterminate period in the near future.”

The Commission said the additional authority granted to
agency staff will last until the Commission again has a quorum
and moves to lift the delegation order.

When regulated entities make rate filings that, in the
absence of Commission action, would take effect without
suspension, refund protection or the ability for protesting
parties to appeal, the Commission said its general practice has
been not to allow that to happen.

By issuing the order Friday, the Commission said it intends
to ensure that FERC staff has authority to prevent such filings
from taking effect during the no-quorum period.

FERC also said staff can extend the time for action on
matters where it is permitted by statute.



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