Workshop Regarding the Creation of the Office of Public Participation

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 16 Apr 2021 13:00:00 GMT

A February 22, 2021 notice announced a Commissioner-led workshop to be held on April 16, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The workshop will follow a series of listening sessions with stakeholder groups.

The workshop will provide interested parties with the opportunity to provide input to the Commission on the creation of the Office of Public Participation. The Commission intends to establish and operate the Office of Public Participation to “coordinate assistance to the public with respect to authorities exercised by the Commission,” including assistance to those seeking to intervene in Commission proceedings, pursuant to section 319 of the Federal Power Act (FPA). 16 U.S.C. § 825q–1. Congress directed the Commission to provide, by June 25, 2021, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a report on the Commission’s progress towards establishing the Office of Public Participation, including an organizational structure and budget for the office, beginning in fiscal year 2022.

The Commission plans to hear input on the following considerations in forming the Office of Public Participation, including:
  • the office’s function and scope as authorized by section 319 of the FPA;
  • the office’s organizational structure and approach, including the use of equity assessment tools;
  • participation by tribes, environmental justice communities, and other affected individuals and communities, including those who have not historically participated before the Commission; and
  • intervenor compensation.

The Commission seeks nominations for stakeholder panelists to provide input about each of these areas of consideration at the workshop by March 10, 2020. Each nomination should indicate name, contact information, organizational affiliation, what issue area the proposed panelist would speak on, and suggested workshop topics to OPPWorkshopNominations@ferc.gov.

For questions, please contact Stacey Steep of the Office of General Counsel at (202) 502-8148, or send an email to OPPWorkshop@ferc.gov, and Sarah McKinley, (202) 502-8368, sarah.mckinley@ferc.gov, for logistical issues.

Office of Public Participation Listening Sessions: Energy Consumers and Consumer Advocates

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 25 Mar 2021 17:00:00 GMT

Commission staff will host a series of listening sessions to give members of the public an opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas about the creation of the Office of Public Participation (OPP).

Pre-registration for speakers is highly recommended. Speaking priority will be provided to members of the public or representatives of Tribal governments who pre-register for a listening session. Following a brief introduction from Commission staff, each session will be open to the public for 3-5 minutes of comment per participant. Participants who have not pre-registered will be invited to speak after pre-registered participants, time permitting. Participants on the call have the option to listen only and can submit though eComment.

Dial-in information to come

In advance of the listening sessions, participants may wish to consider the issues listed below:

  • Section 319 of the FPA states that the OPP will be administered by a Director. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(a)(2)(A)). In addition to the Director, how should the office be structured?
  • Should the Commission consider creating an advisory board for OPP? If so, what role would the board serve and who should be on the board?
  • How should the OPP coordinate assistance to persons intervening or participating, or seeking to intervene or participate, in a Commission proceeding?
  • To what extent do you, or the organization you represent, currently interact with the Commission? What has hindered or helped your ability to participate in Commission proceedings?
  • Have you engaged with other governmental entities—such as local, state, and other federal agencies—on matters involving your interests? If so, how did those agencies engage in outreach, and what practices improved your ability to participate in their processes?
  • How should the OPP engage with Tribal Governments, environmental justice communities, energy consumers, landowners, and other members of the public affected by Commission proceedings?
  • Section 319 of the FPA allows the Commission to promulgate rules to offer compensation for attorney fees and other expenses to intervenors and participants who substantially contribute to a significant Commission proceeding if participation otherwise would result in significant financial hardship. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(b)(2)). How should the Commission approach the issue of intervenor compensation? What should the OPP’s role be with respect to intervenor compensation? How should the Commission establish a budget for and fund intervenor compensation? What lessons can the Commission learn from the administration of similar state intervenor compensation programs?

The sessions will be open for the public to attend, and there is no fee for attendance. Listening sessions will be audio-only. Call-in information details, including preregistration, can be found on the OPP website. Information will also be posted on the Calendar of Events on the Commission’s website, www.ferc.gov, prior to the event. The listening sessions will be transcribed and placed into the record approximately one week after the session date.

The listening sessions will be accessible under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For accessibility accommodations, please send an email to accessibility@ferc.gov or call toll free 1-866-208-3372 (voice) or 202-502-8659 (TTY), or send a FAX to 202-208-2106 with the required accommodations.

The public may also submit written comments on these topics to the record in Docket No. AD21-9-000 by Friday, April 23, 2021. Please file comments using the Commission’s eFiling system at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/FERCOnline.aspx. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY).

Office of Public Participation Listening Sessions: Tribal Governments (Session 2)

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Mar 2021 17:00:00 GMT

Commission staff will host a series of listening sessions to give members of the public an opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas about the creation of the Office of Public Participation (OPP).

Because of the unique relationship between the federal government and Indian Tribes, separate listening sessions will be held for representatives of Tribal governments, so that the Commission can assure that tribal interests and issues are considered in the development of OPP. Please note, while this session is open to the public, only representatives of federally recognized Tribal governments will be recognized to speak. Members of the public wishing to provide comments regarding tribal issues and interests are encouraged to attend the Environmental Justice and Tribal Interest Listening Session on March 22, 2021.

Pre-registration for speakers is highly recommended. Speaking priority will be provided to members of the public or representatives of Tribal governments who pre-register for a listening session. Following a brief introduction from Commission staff, each session will be open to the public for 3-5 minutes of comment per participant. Participants who have not pre-registered will be invited to speak after pre-registered participants, time permitting. Participants on the call have the option to listen only and can submit though eComment.

Dial-in information to come

In advance of the listening sessions, participants may wish to consider the issues listed below:

  • Section 319 of the FPA states that the OPP will be administered by a Director. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(a)(2)(A)). In addition to the Director, how should the office be structured?
  • Should the Commission consider creating an advisory board for OPP? If so, what role would the board serve and who should be on the board?
  • How should the OPP coordinate assistance to persons intervening or participating, or seeking to intervene or participate, in a Commission proceeding?
  • To what extent do you, or the organization you represent, currently interact with the Commission? What has hindered or helped your ability to participate in Commission proceedings?
  • Have you engaged with other governmental entities—such as local, state, and other federal agencies—on matters involving your interests? If so, how did those agencies engage in outreach, and what practices improved your ability to participate in their processes?
  • How should the OPP engage with Tribal Governments, environmental justice communities, energy consumers, landowners, and other members of the public affected by Commission proceedings?
  • Section 319 of the FPA allows the Commission to promulgate rules to offer compensation for attorney fees and other expenses to intervenors and participants who substantially contribute to a significant Commission proceeding if participation otherwise would result in significant financial hardship. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(b)(2)). How should the Commission approach the issue of intervenor compensation? What should the OPP’s role be with respect to intervenor compensation? How should the Commission establish a budget for and fund intervenor compensation? What lessons can the Commission learn from the administration of similar state intervenor compensation programs?

The sessions will be open for the public to attend, and there is no fee for attendance. Listening sessions will be audio-only. Call-in information details, including preregistration, can be found on the OPP website. Information will also be posted on the Calendar of Events on the Commission’s website, www.ferc.gov, prior to the event. The listening sessions will be transcribed and placed into the record approximately one week after the session date.

The listening sessions will be accessible under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For accessibility accommodations, please send an email to accessibility@ferc.gov or call toll free 1-866-208-3372 (voice) or 202-502-8659 (TTY), or send a FAX to 202-208-2106 with the required accommodations.

The public may also submit written comments on these topics to the record in Docket No. AD21-9-000 by Friday, April 23, 2021. Please file comments using the Commission’s eFiling system at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/FERCOnline.aspx. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY).

Office of Public Participation Listening Sessions: Tribal Governments (Session 1)

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Mar 2021 14:00:00 GMT

Commission staff will host a series of listening sessions to give members of the public an opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas about the creation of the Office of Public Participation (OPP).

Because of the unique relationship between the federal government and Indian Tribes, separate listening sessions will be held for representatives of Tribal governments, so that the Commission can assure that tribal interests and issues are considered in the development of OPP. Please note, while this session is open to the public, only representatives of federally recognized Tribal governments will be recognized to speak. Members of the public wishing to provide comments regarding tribal issues and interests are encouraged to attend the Environmental Justice and Tribal Interest Listening Session on March 22, 2021. Participants on the call have the option to listen only and can submit though eComment.

Pre-registration for speakers is highly recommended. Speaking priority will be provided to members of the public or representatives of Tribal governments who pre-register for a listening session. Participants who have not pre-registered will be invited to speak after pre-registered participants, time permitting. Participants on the call have the option to listen only and can submit though eComment.

Dial-in information to come

In advance of the listening sessions, participants may wish to consider the issues listed below:

  • Section 319 of the FPA states that the OPP will be administered by a Director. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(a)(2)(A)). In addition to the Director, how should the office be structured?
  • Should the Commission consider creating an advisory board for OPP? If so, what role would the board serve and who should be on the board?
  • How should the OPP coordinate assistance to persons intervening or participating, or seeking to intervene or participate, in a Commission proceeding?
  • To what extent do you, or the organization you represent, currently interact with the Commission? What has hindered or helped your ability to participate in Commission proceedings? Have you engaged with other governmental entities—such as local, state, and other federal agencies—on matters involving your interests? If so, how did those agencies engage in outreach, and what practices improved your ability to participate in their processes?
  • How should the OPP engage with Tribal Governments, environmental justice communities, energy consumers, landowners, and other members of the public affected by Commission proceedings?
  • Section 319 of the FPA allows the Commission to promulgate rules to offer compensation for attorney fees and other expenses to intervenors and participants who substantially contribute to a significant Commission proceeding if participation otherwise would result in significant financial hardship. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(b)(2)). How should the Commission approach the issue of intervenor compensation? What should the OPP’s role be with respect to intervenor compensation? How should the Commission establish a budget for and fund intervenor compensation? What lessons can the Commission learn from the administration of similar state intervenor compensation programs?

The sessions will be open for the public to attend, and there is no fee for attendance. Listening sessions will be audio-only. Call-in information details, including preregistration, can be found on the OPP website. Information will also be posted on the Calendar of Events on the Commission’s website, www.ferc.gov, prior to the event. The listening sessions will be transcribed and placed into the record approximately one week after the session date.

The listening sessions will be accessible under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For accessibility accommodations, please send an email to accessibility@ferc.gov or call toll free 1-866-208-3372 (voice) or 202-502-8659 (TTY), or send a FAX to 202-208-2106 with the required accommodations.

The public may also submit written comments on these topics to the record in Docket No. AD21-9-000 by Friday, April 23, 2021. Please file comments using the Commission’s eFiling system at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/FERCOnline.aspx. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY).

Office of Public Participation Listening Sessions: Environmental Justice Communities and Tribal Interests

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:00:00 GMT

Commission staff will host a series of listening sessions to give members of the public an opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas about the creation of the Office of Public Participation (OPP).

Pre-registration for speakers is highly recommended. Speaking priority will be provided to members of the public or representatives of Tribal governments who pre-register for a listening session. Following a brief introduction from Commission staff, each session will be open to the public for 3-5 minutes of comment per participant. Participants who have not pre-registered will be invited to speak after pre-registered participants, time permitting. Participants on the call have the option to listen only and can submit though eComment.

Dial-in information to come

In advance of the listening sessions, participants may wish to consider the issues listed below:

  • Section 319 of the FPA states that the OPP will be administered by a Director. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(a)(2)(A)). In addition to the Director, how should the office be structured?
  • Should the Commission consider creating an advisory board for OPP? If so, what role would the board serve and who should be on the board?
  • How should the OPP coordinate assistance to persons intervening or participating, or seeking to intervene or participate, in a Commission proceeding?
  • To what extent do you, or the organization you represent, currently interact with the Commission? What has hindered or helped your ability to participate in Commission proceedings?
  • Have you engaged with other governmental entities—such as local, state, and other federal agencies—on matters involving your interests? If so, how did those agencies engage in outreach, and what practices improved your ability to participate in their processes?
  • How should the OPP engage with Tribal Governments, environmental justice communities, energy consumers, landowners, and other members of the public affected by Commission proceedings?
  • Section 319 of the FPA allows the Commission to promulgate rules to offer compensation for attorney fees and other expenses to intervenors and participants who substantially contribute to a significant Commission proceeding if participation otherwise would result in significant financial hardship. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(b)(2)). How should the Commission approach the issue of intervenor compensation? What should the OPP’s role be with respect to intervenor compensation? How should the Commission establish a budget for and fund intervenor compensation? What lessons can the Commission learn from the administration of similar state intervenor compensation programs?

The sessions will be open for the public to attend, and there is no fee for attendance. Listening sessions will be audio-only. Call-in information details, including preregistration, can be found on the OPP website. Information will also be posted on the Calendar of Events on the Commission’s website, www.ferc.gov, prior to the event. The listening sessions will be transcribed and placed into the record approximately one week after the session date.

The listening sessions will be accessible under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For accessibility accommodations, please send an email to accessibility@ferc.gov or call toll free 1-866-208-3372 (voice) or 202-502-8659 (TTY), or send a FAX to 202-208-2106 with the required accommodations.

The public may also submit written comments on these topics to the record in Docket No. AD21-9-000 by Friday, April 23, 2021. Please file comments using the Commission’s eFiling system at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/FERCOnline.aspx. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY).

Office of Public Participation Listening Sessions: Landowners and Communities Affected by Infrastructure Development

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 17 Mar 2021 17:00:00 GMT

Commission staff will host a series of listening sessions to give members of the public an opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas about the creation of the Office of Public Participation (OPP).

Pre-registration for speakers is highly recommended. Speaking priority will be provided to members of the public or representatives of Tribal governments who pre-register for a listening session. Following a brief introduction from Commission staff, each session will be open to the public for 3-5 minutes of comment per participant. Participants who have not pre-registered will be invited to speak after pre-registered participants, time permitting. Participants on the call have the option to listen only and can submit though eComment.

Dial-in information to come.

In advance of the listening sessions, participants may wish to consider the issues listed below:

  • Section 319 of the FPA states that the OPP will be administered by a Director. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(a)(2)(A)). In addition to the Director, how should the office be structured?
  • Should the Commission consider creating an advisory board for OPP? If so, what role would the board serve and who should be on the board?
  • How should the OPP coordinate assistance to persons intervening or participating, or seeking to intervene or participate, in a Commission proceeding?
  • To what extent do you, or the organization you represent, currently interact with the Commission? What has hindered or helped your ability to participate in Commission proceedings?
  • Have you engaged with other governmental entities—such as local, state, and other federal agencies—on matters involving your interests? If so, how did those agencies engage in outreach, and what practices improved your ability to participate in their processes?
  • How should the OPP engage with Tribal Governments, environmental justice communities, energy consumers, landowners, and other members of the public affected by Commission proceedings? Section 319 of the FPA allows the Commission to promulgate rules to offer compensation for attorney fees and other expenses to intervenors and participants who substantially contribute to a significant Commission proceeding if participation otherwise would result in significant financial hardship. (16 U.S.C. § 825q–1(b)(2)). How should the Commission approach the issue of intervenor compensation? What should the OPP’s role be with respect to intervenor compensation? How should the Commission establish a budget for and fund intervenor compensation? What lessons can the Commission learn from the administration of similar state intervenor compensation programs?

The sessions will be open for the public to attend, and there is no fee for attendance. Listening sessions will be audio-only. Call-in information details, including preregistration, can be found on the OPP website. Information will also be posted on the Calendar of Events on the Commission’s website, www.ferc.gov, prior to the event. The listening sessions will be transcribed and placed into the record approximately one week after the session date.

The listening sessions will be accessible under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For accessibility accommodations, please send an email to accessibility@ferc.gov or call toll free 1-866-208-3372 (voice) or 202-502-8659 (TTY), or send a FAX to 202-208-2106 with the required accommodations.

The public may also submit written comments on these topics to the record in Docket No. AD21-9-000 by Friday, April 23, 2021. Please file comments using the Commission’s eFiling system at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/FERCOnline.aspx. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY).

The adequacy of state and federal regulatory structures for governing electric utility holding companies

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 May 2008 13:30:00 GMT

Witnesses
Panel I
  • Joseph Kelliher, chairman, FERC
  • Suedeen Kelly, commissioner, FERC
  • Philip Moeller, commissioner, FERC
  • Jon Wellinghoff, commissioner, FERC
  • Marc Spitzer, commissioner, FERC
Panel II
  • David Owens, executive vice president, Business Operations, Edison Electric Institute
  • Mark Gaffigan, director, Energy Projects, Division of Natural Resources and Environment, GAO
  • Scott Hempling, executive director, National Regulatory Research Institute
  • James Kerr, commissioner, North Carolina Utilities Commission
E&E News:
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will question energy regulators about their efforts to protect consumers when utilities are acquired by large holding companies at a hearing Thursday.

The 2005 Energy Policy Act repealed a 1935 provision that had prevented holding companies from owning more than one utility and restricting non-utility companies from owning or controlling regulated utilities. The intention was to generate investment and access to capital in the power industry to stimulate the large projects needed in generation and transmission.

When holding companies own subsidiaries in both competitive and regulated markets, it is important to protect consumers from cross-subsidization. This involves large holding companies using guaranteed rates from captive customers – those who still receive power from one regulated utility – to pay for financial risks taken by other subsidiaries.

Holding companies could also abuse that privilege by having regulated utilities buy services for above-market prices from its other companies and get paid through rate returns.

The 2005 EPAct granted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to review merger acquisitions but required the commission to determine if the transaction would result in “cross subsidizations” and to adopt rules in that regard. The bill did not outline specific consumer protection regulations be put in place.

Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) had questioned the wisdom of repealing the 1935 provision without providing some required consumer protection regulation at the time.

Feingold and Brownback introduced an amendment that would have required FERC to establish “ring fencing” rules that restricted financial transfers between a regulated utility and its unregulated affiliates owned by the same holding company. The amendment did not pass but Bingaman promised during floor debate to hold a hearing on federal and state regulations on merger reviews and also asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the matter. GAO confirms doubts

The GAO report was finally released last month and it appeared to confirm the senators’ fears of weak consumer protection.

The report said FERC has not substantially expanded its review policies since the 2005 bill and relies too much on self-reporting.

The report recommended FERC use “a risk-based approach to detect cross-subsidization, enhance audit reporting, and reassess resources to demonstrate oversight vigilance.”

FERC has strongly disagreed with the GAO report. FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher said the report failed to understand FERC’s current policies and the history of its authority and definition of cross-subsidization.

FERC has the flexibility to defer to states’ protective measures, in contrast to the “pre-emptive” approach supported by the GAO report, Kelliher said at this month’s meeting.

“Recognizing the common interest in policing improper cross-subsidization, that [pre-emptive] approach seemed wholly inappropriate, since it would produce unnecessary conflict between federal and state regulators,” Kelliher said.

FERC is currently reviewing a proposed rule that would require a “code of conduct” when regulated and market-based companies had transactions.

But the GAO report said merely requiring merger companies to disclose existing or planned cross-subsidization and to promise not to engage in cross-subsidization is not strong enough regulation.

Several states have established “strong ring fencing” rules, including Oregon and Arizona, and have asked FERC not to adopt “pre-emptive” merger regulations.

All five FERC commissioners will testify, as well as representatives from state regulators, consumer advocates, GAO and the electric industry.