Utility Responsibility

PG&E, NextEra, FERC in contentious bankruptcy talks

A major U.S. utility’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing (you may have heard) is sending continual shockwaves through the power industry. In contention over the specifics of the funding it believes the former will request, the ensuing battle between PG&E and NextEra already has the makings of getting ugly.

The governing body meant to handle such difficult situations claimed jurisdiction over the filing yesterday, in response to concerns by NextEra. At the same time, that body’s current Commissioner Cheryl LaFluer announced today she intends to step down at the end of her current term.

NextEra Energy, which has several subsidiaries selling renewable power to PG&E, on Jan. 18 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to block the utility from amending or rejecting power purchase agreements (PPAs) with several  providers.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finds itself in the crosshairs, a position it’s got to be mildly familiar with by now. In this case, FERC is being asked to play mediator in addition to regulator.

NextEra told FERC that if PG&E files for bankruptcy, the utility “undoubtedly will … ask the bankruptcy court to enjoin a proceeding by this Commission from exercising its FPA jurisdiction over such contracts or from issuing an order to stay PG&E or the bankruptcy court.”

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