Oral argument: Nov. 3, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Mar. 28, 2008)
FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, FEDERAL POWER ACT, MOBILE-SIERRA DOCTRINE
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) declared that future challenges to contract rates relating to New England's energy market will be evaluated under Mobile-Sierra’s public interest standard, which presumes that freely negotiated rates are just and reasonable as long as there is no serious threat to the public interest. Petitioners, NRG Power Marketing, LLC, et al. (“NRG Power”) support FERC’s use of the public interest standard. However, respondents, Maine Public Utilities Commission, et al. (“Maine Public Utilities”) contend that the use of the public interest standard deprives non-contracting third party challengers of their statutory right to evaluation under a more scrutinizing just and reasonable standard. Maine Public Utilities finds the statutory standard preferable because challengers merely have to prove that a rate is unjust and unreasonable to succeed in challenging the contract rate. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Maine Public Utilities that the just and reasonable standard is the appropriate standard of review when challenges are initiated by non-contracting third parties. The Supreme Court's decision in this case will impact the stability of the electrical energy market, influence future investments in it, and, ultimately, affect New England’s supply of electricity.