FERC asserts jurisdiction over PG&E contracts

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The issue of what will happen to contracts with wind and solar plants held by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has entered another phase, and the company hasn’t even filed for bankruptcy yet as it warned two weeks ago.

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order declaring that it has a say in what happens to these contracts. The agency states:

We conclude that this Commission and the bankruptcy courts have concurrent jurisdiction to review and address the disposition of wholesale power contracts sought to be rejected through bankruptcy.

FERC is claiming this authority under the Federal Power Act (FPA) per a petition by NextEra Energy last week. However, FERC describes the law in this area as “unsettled,” noting that in past bankruptcy cases “several courts have read the FPA and the Bankruptcy Code in pari materia and reached different conclusions.”

 

Huge volume of intervenors

The filing comes after dozens of developers backed by trade groups have filed to intervene in the NextEra filing and a similar filing by Exelon calling on FERC to step in and assert its authority over these contracts.

The group of intervenors reads like a who’s-who of renewable energy development and asset owners including Brookfield, D.E. Shaw, Dominion, EDF Renewables, EDP Renewables, First Solar, NRG and Southern Company. These were joined by every renewable energy organization under the sun, including Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) as well as Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Public Citizen.

Not to be left out of the action, cities, counties, irrigation districts, municipal utilities, transmission organizations and the Western Area Power Authority have also filed to intervene.