State Jurisdiction Over Distributed Generators

Morrison & Foerster Hosted Energy Bar Association Program

03/18/2014 12:00 p.m. - 01:30 p.m.

Renewable Energy and Clean Technology

Morrison & Foerster LLP
425 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

(202) 223-5625

Morrison & Foerster will host The Foundation of the Energy Law Journal event for the Energy Bar Association featuring Frank Lindh, General Counsel of the California Public Utilities Commission.

In an article in the current issue of the Energy Law Journal, Frank Lindh challenges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) interpretation of its authority over the activities of generators and electricity storage providers located on local distribution systems.

The premise of the article - and the subject of Mr. Lindh's March 18th presentation - is that, contrary to FERC's long-held view, the activities of "distributed generators," as they are known, are beyond FERC's jurisdiction to regulate under the Federal Power Act, as interpreted by an authoritative opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, even where the distribution system is operated by an otherwise FERC jurisdictional public utility.

This means the states have complete authority, emanating from their organic police powers, to regulate not only the rates and terms of sales-for-resale of electricity by distributed generators for consumption locally, but also the terms by which they interconnect to the distribution grid. Under the theory of this article, co-authored by Mr. Lindh and Thomas Bone, the individual states have full inherent authority to create and manage what are referred to as "micro-grids," and to adopt mechanisms such as "feed-in tariffs" for distributed generators.


  • Frank Lindh
    General Counsel, California Public Utilities Commission

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