Readout: March 27, 2020
Readout from FERC COVID-19 Pandemic conference call with NARUC, NASEO and National Governors Association
Today, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and FERC senior staff members convened a conference call with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and the National Governors Association.
The call provided FERC’s state partners with an update on FERC’s efforts and Commission actions since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of the country into telework status. The Directors of FERC’s Office of the Executive Director (OED), Office of Electric Reliability (OER), and Office of Energy Infrastructure Security (OEIS) provided updates on actions taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chairman Chatterjee and NARUC’s President, Mississippi Commissioner Brandon Presley, provided opening remarks during today’s call, stressing the importance of collaboration to ensure the continued availability of reliable electricity. This was followed by FERC staff providing an overview of the agency’s operating status, and actions FERC has taken to respond to the to the COVID-19 pandemic. That was followed by a Q&A session for call participants with FERC staff.
Anton Porter, FERC’s Executive Director, stressed that FERC remains fully functional via its telework capabilities with more than 1,400 employees nationwide working remotely. OED continues to actively monitor all things COVID-19, acting as clearinghouse of information for the agency’s employees and assisting employees affected by the coronavirus.
Andrew Dodge, Director of the Office of Electric Reliability, indicated that FERC has maintained regular communication with the RTOs and ISOs and that we currently do not anticipate the COVID-19 pandemic to affect the reliability of the Bulk Electric System. Additionally, FERC has regularly collaborated with NERC and taken concrete steps to utilize opportunities of regulatory flexibility to minimize the impacts of the coronavirus on operations while maintaining the reliability of the grid.
Joseph McClelland, Director of the Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, highlighted the collaborative efforts that FERC has taken in conjunction with its federal, state, and industry partners during this pandemic. FERC is actively participating in the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council’s regular briefings, recently issued a joint statement with NARUC encouraging the designation of critical infrastructure employees as essential workers, and stressed the importance of prioritizing cyber security during this pandemic.
Larry Parkinson, Director of the Office of Enforcement, noted that all of FERC’s enforcement capabilities remain fully functional and we continue to engage with the market monitors to ensure that our competitive energy markets are properly functioning. OE has also taken measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by cancelling in-person audits and testimony, and declining to initiate any new audits until July. Parkinson also noted that OE has not observed any increase in questionable market activity since the onset of the pandemic.
FERC Chairman Chatterjee said he expects to do more of these calls as the pandemic continues, to provide further updates and to discuss areas of mutual interest.