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Electric Utility Provisions in House-Passed H.R. 6, 109th Congress

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Publication Date: August 2005

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL32925

Topic: Energy (Electric power)

Abstract:

Electric utility provisions were included in comprehensive energy legislation (H.R. 6) that passed the House on April 21, 2005. For an analysis of all provisions of House-passed H.R. 6, see CRS Report RL32936, Omnibus Energy Legislation, 109th Congress: Assessment of H.R. 6 as passed by the House. The Senate Passed its version of H.R. 6 on June 28, 2005. Conferees on H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, agreed on a final bill July 26, 2005 (H.Rept. 109-190). On July 28, the House approved the conference report (275-156). Senate approval (74-26) of the conference report followed the next day. The bill was signed into law by President Bush on August 8, 2005.

This report describes Title XII of the House-passed H.R. 6 in the 109th Congress and other sections that deal with electric power issues. In part, Title XII would create an electric reliability organization (ERO) that would enforce mandatory reliability standards for the bulk-power system. All ERO standards would be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Under this title, the ERO could impose penalties on a user, owner, or operator of the bulk-power system that violates any FERC-approved reliability standard. This title also addresses transmission infrastructure issues. The Secretary of Energy would be able to certify congestion on the transmission lines and issue permits to transmission owners. Permit holders would be able to petition in U.S. district court to acquire rights-of-way for the construction of transmission lines through the exercise of the right of eminent domain. A provision that would have required FERC to approve participant funding for new transmission lines was removed in markup by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Standard Market Design notice of proposed rulemaking would be remanded to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This provision clarifies native load service obligation. Federal utilities would be allowed to participate in regional transmission organizations.

The electricity title would repeal the mandatory purchase requirements under the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act. The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) would be repealed. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state regulatory bodies would be given access to utility books and records.

FERC would be required to issue rules to establish an electronic system that provides information about the availability and price of wholesale electric energy and transmission services. For electric rates that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finds to be unjust, unreasonable, or unduly discriminatory, the effective date for refunds could begin at the time of the filing of a complaint with FERC but not later than five months after filing of a complaint. Criminal and civil penalties would be increased. The Federal Power Act would be amended to give FERC review authority for transfer of assets valued in excess of $10 million.

This report will not be updated.