FERC assures NASUCA it’s functioning fully during pandemic

Published on April 10, 2020 by Chris Galford

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In a conference call between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), FERC’s Executive Director Anton Porter informed the organization that the commission’s work goes on unimpeded by the shift to telecommute operations.

The new setup, forced by the spread of the COVID-19, has become the new norm for a country weathering a pandemic. Porter noted that for FERC, more than 1,400 employees continue to work remotely, nationwide. Additionally, FERC’s Office of the Executive Director (OED) has created an emergency response team to act as a support center and coordinator for responsive action, as well as to continually update staff on COVID-19 items. FERC also has a new pandemic liaison, Caroline Wozniak.

Additionally, FERC has waived in-person meeting requirements and the need for notarized documents, among other measures, to help promote social distancing. At the same time, Aileen Roder, attorney advisor to the Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, assured listeners that work continues on rulemakings, engagement with market monitors and technical conferences — although the latter will be made virtual.

Regular communication is being maintained with RTOs and ISOs and the Bulk Electric System should not be at risk, said Andrew Dodge, director of the Office of Electric Reliability. Further, FERC is working with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to minimize any impacts to operations and grid reliability.

Enforcement is still in full swing, though in-person audits and testimony have been canceled and new audits will not be started until at least July. For the duration of the crisis, FERC has also been among the voices arguing for the designation of critical infrastructure employees as essential workers.

In all, the call was something of an update on the agency’s operations in a time of crisis, followed by a Q&A period.