What Happens to FERC in a Government Shutdown

 

As blame for the looming shutdown of the Federal government is punted back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, I have received several inquiries as to what will happen with FERC as of 11:59 PM tonight in the absence of a Continuing Resolution passed by the Senate.    The short answer is: FERC has a plan.  In fact, you can read it here.

In a nutshell, FERC will use its available funds to maintain normal operations, and when such funds are gone, will reduce its staff to 49 employees, 18 contractors and the 5 Commissioners (from a total of nearly 1,500 employees) to perform “excepted” operations.  These excepted activities include: (i) formal actions by the Commission, (ii) inspection of hydroelectric and LNG projects, (iii) reliability monitoring and threats to infrastructure, (iv) market monitoring (for urgent matters only), (v) legal advice to the Commissioners and excepted personnel and matters before courts that are not stayed or otherwise deferred, and (vi) maintaining IT and security for the Commission’s facilities.

Business will be as usual on Monday.  But as the Commission starts it shutdown, FERC will let the public know when it will cease accepting filings and postpone deadlines, or otherwise curtail its services, and it will also advise as to when it will furlough employees.   FERC will then whittle itself down to the excepted activities.  Plan accordingly!

This will certainly not be the first government shutdown affecting FERC.  Over the last 4 decades, there were seven very short shutdowns under President Reagan, one under President Bush, two under President Clinton, and one under President Obama.  The longest two shutdowns by far are the most recent (21 days in 1996 under President Clinton and 16 days in 2013 under President Obama). 

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