Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee held a press conference on March 19 to discuss FERC’s work during the current pandemic, provide updates regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), and respond to questions from the media. According to today’s announcements, FERC plans to keep operating as usual but will provide extensive flexibility to the regulated industry in addressing the effects of the pandemic on FERC-jurisdictional activities.
Pending Events and Hearings
Chairman Chatterjee stated that all technical conferences scheduled through May 2020 will be conducted via conference call or WebEx, or postponed, and the Commission will post schedules to the FERC.gov calendar. He also stated that the Chief Administrative Law Judge will make case-by-case decisions regarding postponing currently scheduled hearings.
Modified Compliance Deadlines
The Commission issued a notice extending, until May 1, 2020, deadlines for certain required filings that are due between now and that date. According to the notice, those include deadlines for the following:
- Filing forms required by the Commission, with the exception of FERC Form No. 6, Annual Report of Oil Pipeline Companies
- Other non-statutory filings required by the Commission (e.g., compliance filings, responses to deficiency letters, rulemaking comments)
- Filings required by entities’ tariffs or rate schedules
The Commission will be receptive to requests for other deadline extensions and requests for other forms of relief, explaining in the notice issued that “entities 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.”
Chairman Chatterjee stated that the Commission will exercise enforcement discretion to take extenuating circumstances into account in evaluating compliance and enforcement matters. Pursuant to the Commission’s discretion, the Office of Enforcement is postponing audit visits and investigative testimony, and will adjust other deadlines as appropriate. Enforcement will be flexible and act expeditiously in granting extensions and waivers of compliance filings, forms, and Electronic Quarterly Reports, as appropriate.
Further, FERC and NERC have agreed to use regulatory discretion as appropriate while ensuring the reliability of the grid. These steps include temporary relief from certain compliance requirements and the postponement of onsite audits, certifications, and other onsite activities through July.
Commission Contacts for COVID-19 Issues
The Commission named Caroline Wozniak as its point of contact for all industry inquiries related to the impacts of COVID-19 on FERC-jurisdictional activities. Members of the regulated community can email PandemicLiaison@ferc.gov to receive prompt responses to their questions from Commission staff.