FERC’s ‘Demand Response’ Rule Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court
January 25, 2016 — 10:03 AM EST Updated on January 25, 2016 — 10:14 AM EST
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to power generators, upholding a federal rule aimed at encouraging industrial consumers to cut electricity use.
The justices, voting 6-2, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acted within its authority with the order, which sets rates for an energy-saving practice known as “demand response.” The court also upheld the formula used by FERC.
The ruling is a missed opportunity for the country’s biggest energy generators, which were seeking a chance to widen their profits. A decision invalidating the rule would have benefited NRG Energy Inc., FirstEnergy Corp., Exelon Corp., Dynegy Inc., Talen Energy Corp., Calpine Corp., Public Service Enterprise Group and American Electric Power Co.
Major energy consumers, including aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., backed the rule, as did smart-grid companies such as EnerNOC Inc., which help large consumers reduce their power use.
The case centered on the U.S. Federal Power Act, which lets FERC regulate rates only at the wholesale level and leaves retail regulation in the hands of the states.
Justice Elena Kagan wrote the court’s majority opinion. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Justice Samuel Alito didn’t take part in the case because of a stock holding.