March 19, 2020Client Alert

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Extends Non-Statutory Deadlines, Postpones Other Activity in Light of Coronavirus

As of March 19, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC, or the Commission) remains open and operating for essential business. However, the Commission announced today that it will implement a number of changes due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In particular, FERC Secretary Kimberly Bose issued a Notice to advise regulated entities affected by Coronavirus-related emergency conditions that the Commission will extend until May 1, 2020:

  • The deadline for filing forms required by the Commission, with the exception of the FERC Form No. 6, Annual Report of Oil Pipeline Companies;
  • The deadline for entities to make other non-statutory filings required by the Commission (e.g., compliance filings, responses to deficiency letters, rulemaking comments); and
  • The deadline for entities to make filings required by their tariffs or rate schedules.

These deadline extensions will apply to all such filings that are due prior to May 1, 2020. Per the Notice regulated entities may seek extensions for other deadlines as well, and may “seek waiver of the Commission’s orders, regulations, tariffs and rate schedules, as appropriate, to address needs resulting from steps they have taken in response to the coronavirus.”

The Commission also has announced the following changes to its operations:

  • FERC’s Office of Enforcement will postpone all previously scheduled audit site visits and investigative testimony. In a News Release issued today, the Commission stated that it will “actively explore other ways we can lift burdens on the regulated community… The Office of Enforcement will also act expeditiously in granting extensions and waivers of compliance filings, forms and EQRs, as appropriate.”
  • Technical conferences scheduled through May 2020 will be conducted via conference call or postponed, according to posted calendar updates.
  • Administrative Law Judges will evaluate scheduled hearings on a case-by-case basis to determine the need to postpone. Today’s News Release indicates that ALJ settlement conferences will continue via conference call.
  • Regular updates related to the Commission’s evolving response to Coronavirus will be posted to a newly developed landing page on the website.

Finally, regulated entities should be aware that FERC and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) have announced steps to promote optimum use of resources to ensure reliability and continuity of service, including the use of enforcement discretion to consider the impact of Coronavirus on compliance with Reliability Standards.

Currently, FERC and NERC advise that the effects of Coronavirus “will be considered an acceptable basis for non-compliance with obtaining and maintaining personnel certification, as required in Reliability Standard PER-003-2, for the period of March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.” Likewise, the effects of Coronavirus “will be considered an acceptable reason for case-by-case non-compliance with Reliability Standard requirements involving periodic actions that would have been taken between March 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.” Currently, regulated entities are still required to notify their Regional Entities and Reliability Coordinators when using system operator personnel that are not NERC-certified, and must notify their Regional Entities of any periodic actions that will be missed during this period.

For more information about the business and legal implications of the Coronavirus pandemic, please contact your Michael Best attorney or visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

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