Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

Forty Years of Ferc

Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

Forty Years of Ferc

Article excerpt

This interview is from a FERC podcast released on September 22, 2016.

Welcome to today's podcast of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. I'm Craig Cano, your host.

Our goal here is to have a conversation about FERC, what it does and how that can affect you. FERC can get very legal and very technical, so we will strive to keep it simple. FERC is an independent regulatory agency that oversees the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. FERC's authority also includes review of proposals to build interstate natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas terminals, as well as licensing of nonfederal hydropower projects. FERC protects the reliability of the high-voltage interstate transmission system through mandatory reliability standards and monitors interstate energy markets to ensure that everyone in those markets is playing by the rules.

Today, Mary O'Driscoll of FERC talks with Charles Curtis, who served as the last chairman of the Federal Power Commission and the first Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from 1977 to 1981. Mr. Curtis was later Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Energy, and is currently Vice Chairman of the US Department of State's International Security Advisory Board.

Mary O'Driscoll: Thank you all for joining us today. I'm Mary O'Driscoll and with me today is Charles Curtis, who is not just the last chairman of the Federal Power Commission but the first chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mr. Curtis is here to talk about the creation of FERC back in 1977 and provide some perspective on where we are today.

I do want to acknowledge, however, that Mr. Curtis' experience extends far beyond FERC, though FERC is what we will be talking back today. Mr. Curtis, it is an honor to have you here, and welcome back to FERC.

I wanted to start at the beginning. You were Chairman of the Federal Power Commission at the time when there was the change. Take us back to, I guess it was 1977, and the Department of Energy Reorganization Act.

Charles Curtis: At the time the stage was set for the consolidation of various agencies and powers in the federal government into a single cabinet-level department. That stage was set by the Yom Kippur War, the ensuing Arab oil embargo and the quadrupling of energy prices. Congress struggled for four years to address a broad suite of issues which had very divisive impact on our society and large transfers of wealth from one section of the country to another section of the coun- try. And so, when Jimmy Carter was elected President, he solicited Jim Schlesinger, who had been previously a Department of Defense Secretary, head of the CIA, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a man of broad experience and impeccable security credentials, to prepare an energy plan, a part of which was to propose the formation of a cabinet-level Department of Energy. As part of that initiative, the decision was taken to bring the powers of the Federal Power Commission within the Department of Energy, and that brought a fight in the Congress about a cabinet secretary having control over much decisional power over electricity and natural gas production and transmission and various other matters that had been assigned to the Federal Power Commission.

So the Congress did a very unusual thing, unprecedented in our structure of government. It set up the department and at the same time it created a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the form of an independent commission within the department. And not only did it have a quasi, or rather significant independence from the department, but it was assigned review powers over secretarial decisions over the allocation and pricing of oil. So it was an enormously powerful department when it was first set up. The Federal Power Commission, before it, was a commission in significant disarray. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.