Utilities are regulated by many state and federal agencies. The energy industry, if not immediately, will eventually be affected by the government shutdown. This post examines the impact of the federal government’s shutdown on a couple of agencies that are directly related to the reliability of the power grid: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC”) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”).
FERC – FERC continues normal business operations utilizing available carryover funds from the prior fiscal year to forestall interruptions in agency activities. As of September 24, 2013, the Commission stated it has 1,460 employees and none of them are financed by sources other than annual appropriations. Upon exhaustion of prior year balances, FERC will continue only excepted activities authorized by law. This means the five Commissioners and approximately 48 FERC employees will be exempted from the furlough.
The following table, taken from a memo released by FERC in anticipation of the shutdown, shows the breakdown of Commission employees that will be retained:
NRC – The agency charged with regulating commercial nuclear power plants that generate electricity states it has enough “carryover” funds from previous years to maintain normal operations for at least one week. When the money runs out, about 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees will be retained to perform excepted functions necessary to support emergency operations. Roughly half are resident inspectors assigned to reactor and fuel facilities and the rest include staff necessary to initially respond to emergency situations at NRC-licensed facilities. NRC’s detailed contingency plan for periods of lapsed appropriations includes a 10 day countdown to the exhaustion of funds with instructions for the CFO, HR and senior leadership team.