Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. v. FERC, No. 14-1281 (D.C. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Until recently, incumbent public utilities were free to include in their tariffs and agreements “the option to construct any new transmission facilities in their particular service areas, even if the proposal for new construction came from a third party.” The Commission ordered utilities to remove rights of first refusal from their existing tariffs and agreements. In S.C. Pub. Serv. Auth. v. FERC, the court upheld the Commission's removal mandate. Under the Mobile-Sierra doctrine, FERC must presume a contract rate for wholesale energy is just and reasonable and cannot set aside the rate unless it is contrary to the public interest. The Commission had reserved judgment on whether to apply this presumption to the rights of first refusal until evaluating the individual utilities’ compliance filings. The court also reserved judgment. Petitioners seek review of FERC's determination at the compliance stage, urging that the Commission erred in concluding that Mobile-Sierra does not in fact protect their rights of first refusal contained in their Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) Membership Agreement. The court held that the Commission painted with a broader brush than necessary in applying potentially applicable Supreme Court precedent, but the court denied the petition nonetheless because nothing in the Mobile-Sierra doctrine requires its extension to the anticompetitive rights of first refusal at issue here.