S&P Global Quotes McGuireWoods’ Todd Mullins on Ruling Affecting FERC Enforcement

December 10, 2021

S&P Global Market Intelligence interviewed McGuireWoods Washington, D.C., office managing partner Todd Mullins for a Dec. 1, 2021, article on a recent federal court ruling that could affect Federal Energy Regulatory Commission enforcement actions in power markets.

In the Nov. 29 ruling, Judge Michael Watson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio concluded that the court did not have the authority to enforce disgorgement and joint and several liability as civil penalties to punish power market participants for market manipulation. Such penalties must be pursued in some other way

Mullins, who chairs the firm’s energy enforcement practice, said the ruling in FERC v. Coaltrain Energy LP could affect several other cases pending before district courts, injecting additional uncertainty into legal proceedings that often take years to resolve.

“The question now is if the disgorgement is supposed to be reviewed by a court of appeals at the same time that you go file a case in district court for review of the civil penalty, even though they’re related,” he said. “The whole thing poses a bit of a conundrum.”