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What is FERC?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission - or "FERC" - is a federal agency that regulates certain interstate utility matters. This include the transmission or transportation of electricity, natural gas, and oil. In general, states govern their own utilities through their State Public Service Commission. FERC steps in when you get outside of state borders and into interstate matters.

The Basics: 

  • FERC has 5 Commissioners (right now, there are only 4)
  • FERC Commissioners are appointed by the President (they are not elected), and confirmed by the Senate
  • Commissioners serve 5-year terms
  • Typically, the Commissioners are politically split 3-2, with the majority belonging to the party controlling the Whitehouse

What does FERC actually do?  

The FERC website has a great description of what they do and do not have jurisdiction over. Here are some of the highlights:

What FERC does: 

  • Regulates the transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce;
  • Regulates the transmission and sale of natural gas for resale in interstate commerce;
  • Regulates the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce;
  • Protects the reliability of the high voltage interstate transmission system through mandatory reliability standards;

What FERC does NOT do:

  • Regulation of retail electricity and natural gas sales to consumers.
  • Approval for the physical construction of electric generation facilities.

Small-scale renewable energy generation systems in Montana - like rooftop solar and small wind – are not within the jurisdiction of FERC.

Montana's net metering program is established by laws passed by the Montana Legislature, and its rates are regulated by the Montana Public Service Commission. You can learn more about Montana's Public Service Commission here.