TIP SHEET: Energy law expert can comment on FERC Supreme Court case

Jim Rossi (Vanderbilt University)

The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission‘s authority to require large customers to cut back on their electricity usage during periods of high demand in the case of FERC v. Electric Power Supply Organization, says Vanderbilt University law professor Jim Rossi.

In an amicus brief Rossi co-authored with three other energy law scholars, they argued that a 2014 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals against FERC on the issue “was based on some fundamental misinterpretations of the Federal Power Act and applicable precedents.”

The Electric Power Supply Association, a trade organization representing power suppliers, filed the lawsuit challenging FERC’s authority to use “demand response” orders to save power during high demand periods.

“Demand response” is a valuable tool for managing the grid during peak use periods, Rossi says.

“The Federal Power Act authorizes FERC to remedy practices affecting wholesale electricity rates to ensure such rates are just, reasonable and fair,” Rossi says. “[lquote]Failure to address demand response in wholesale market creates a potential regulatory gap – a problem the drafters of the statute were specifically aiming to avoid – and the D.C. Circuit opinion also ignored FERC’s reasonable interpretation of its statutory authority.”[/lquote]

Rossi is a professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School. His books include Energy, Economics and the Environment. He co-authored the amicus brief with Richard J. Pierce Jr., Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School; Emily Hammond, professor of law at The George Washington University Law School; and Joel B. Eisen, professor of law at the University of Richmond Law School.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the case Oct. 14.