Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. FPC
324 U.S. 515 (1945)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. FPC, 324 U.S. 515 (1945)

Connecticut Light & Power Co. v. Federal Power Commission

No. 189

Argued January 3, 1945

Decided March 26, 1945

324 U.S. 515

Syllabus

1. The declaration of policy in § 201(a) of the Federal Power Act, that federal regulation is "to extend only to those matters which are not subject to regulation by the States" is relevant in resolving ambiguity in specific provisions of the Act which purport to effectuate that policy. P. 324 U. S. 527.

2. In the provision of § 201(b) of the Federal Power Act that the Commission shall have jurisdiction over all facilities for the transmission or wholesale of electric energy in interstate commerce, "but shall not have jurisdiction, except as specifically provided in this Part and the Part next following, over facilities used . . . in local

Page 324 U. S. 516

distribution," the phrase "facilities used in local distribution" delimits the jurisdiction of the Commission and establishes a legal standard which must be observed in determining whether a company is a "public utility" under the Act. P. 324 U. S. 530.

3. The exemption from the Commission's jurisdiction of "facilities used in local distribution" is not limited to facilities which distribute no out-of-state energy. Facilities may carry out-of-state energy exclusively and still be exempt under the Act. The test is whether they are local distribution facilities. P. 324 U. S. 531.

4. The jurisdiction of the Commission under the Federal Power Act to regulate accounting practices extends only to companies which are "public utilities" under the Act -- i.e., companies which own or operate facilities that are subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission. P. 324 U. S. 531.

5. The court below having considered irrelevant the appropriate test of the Commission's jurisdiction under the Act, its inquiry on review did not proceed under a correct rule of law, and its judgment must be reversed. P. 324 U. S. 532.

6. Where a federal agency is authorized to invoke an overriding federal power except in certain prescribed situations, and then to leave the problem to traditional state control, the existence of federal authority to act should appear affirmatively, and not rest on inference alone. P. 324 U. S. 532.

7. The business of local distribution of electric energy does not, as a matter of law, exclude the process of reducing out-of-state electric energy from high to low voltage in subdividing it to serve ultimate consumers. P. 324 U. S. 534.

8. Upon the record in this case, it is doubtful whether the Commission applied the correct law, and the case should be remanded to the Commission for appropriate jurisdictional findings. This Court does not undertake to decide as an original matter whether the facilities in question are facilities which subject the company to the Act, nor whether there was basis for jurisdiction of the Commission during some past period by reason of the company's operation of facilities since abandoned. P. 324 U. S. 534.

9. The jurisdiction of the Commission under the Federal Power Act, over facilities for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce which are not used in local distribution, does not depend upon whether any particular volume or proportion of interstate energy is involved, and such a jurisdictional limitation is not to be supplied by construction. P. 324 U. S. 536.

141 F.2d 14 reversed.

Page 324 U. S. 517

Certiorari, 323 U.S. 687, to review a judgment sustaining an order of the Federal Power Commission requiring the petitioner to comply with the uniform system of accounts prescribed by the Commission under the Federal Power Act.

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