Supreme Court hears oral arguments over electricity jurisdiction and class action settlement rules News
Supreme Court hears oral arguments over electricity jurisdiction and class action settlement rules

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments in two cases on Wednesday. In Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) v. Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA) [SCOTUSblog docket], the court heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] on the issue of federal versus state authority over the sale of demand response in electricity markets under FERC Order 745 [JURIST report]. The case is linked with EnerNOC v. EPSA [SCOTUSblog docket]. On behalf of FERC, the Solicitor General argued that Order 745 is a strong example of cooperative Federalism, and the policy brings about billions of dollars in consumer benefits by lowering wholesale rates [SCOTUSblog op-ed]. The government argued that FERC Order 745 does not infringe on the retail market, as everything that is regulated under Order 745 occurs at the wholesale level. Additionally, states may opt out of demand response programs. Counsel for EnerNOC, a private company that provides energy information software, argued that Order 745 “provides a basis upon which there will be enough of a market in order to allow the wholesale side of the grid system to operate in an efficient way.” The EPSA argued that Order 745 allows retail electricity consumers to participate in the wholesale market; which is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the States under the Federal Power Act [text]. The EPSA argued that grid operators do not wish to be regulated by both FERC and the states, when setting the market price for electricity derived from demand response programs. Additionally, EPSA challenged the government’s argument that the States may opt out of Order 745 because “there’s no other area of regulatory authority where FERC allows states to opt out.”

In Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez [SCOTUSblog docket] the Court heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] on a dispute over forced settlement of class actions [SCOTUSblog op-ed]. The court states the issue as follows:

(1) Whether a case becomes moot, and thus beyond the judicial power of Article III, when the plaintiff receives an offer of complete relief on his claim; (2) whether the answer to the first question is any different when the plaintiff has asserted a class claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, but receives an offer of complete relief before any class is certified; and (3) whether the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity recognized in Yearsley v. W.A. Ross Construction Co., for government contractors is restricted to claims arising out of property damage caused by public works projects.

The court is analyzing whether complete relief renders a case moot and ends any case or controversy over the individual claim.