FPC v. Idaho Power Co. - 344 U.S. 17 (1952)
U.S. Supreme Court
FPC v. Idaho Power Co., 344 U.S. 17 (1952)
Federal Power Commission v. Idaho Power Co.
Argued October 20-21, 1952
Decided November 10, 1952
344 U.S. 17
Under § 4(e) of the Federal Power Act, the Federal Power Commission issued to a power company a license to construct, operate and maintain a hydroelectric project including a dam, power plant and transmission lines on public lands, subject to the condition that the company permit the interconnection of transmission facilities of the United States with the company's transmission lines and the transfer over those lines of energy generated in power plants owned by the United States. The Court of Appeals held that the Commission had no authority to attach these conditions, and entered a judgment that the Commission's order "be modified" and that the cause be remanded to the Commission "for the entry of an order in accordance with the opinion of this Court." On motion of the Commission for clarification, the court entered a new judgment, stating that the order of the Commission "be, and it is hereby, modified by striking therefrom paragraph (F) thereof [containing the conditions], and that the order of the Federal Power Commission herein as thus modified be, and it is hereby, affirmed."
1. When the Court of Appeals, by its second judgment, decided that the license should issue without the conditions, it usurped an administrative function. Pp. 344 U. S. 19-20.
(a) The power of the Court of Appeals under § 313(b) "to affirm, modify, or set aside" an order of the Commission "in whole or in part" does not authorize it to exercise an essentially administrative function. P. 344 U. S. 21.
(b) Whether the objective of § 10(a) of the Act may be achieved if the contested conditions are stricken from the Commission's order is an administrative, not a judicial, decision. P. 344 U. S. 21.
2. When read in the context of §§ 4 and 10 of the Act, § 6, making each license subject to conditions prescribed by the Commission, authorizes the Commission to attach the conditions imposed
here, and that authority is not impaired by § 201(f) of Part II of the Act, providing that no provision of Part II shall apply to the United States. Pp. 344 U. S. 21-24.
(a) Protection of the public domain, conservation of water power resources, development of comprehensive plans for waterways -- each might on the facts of a case be sufficient to authorize the grant of permission to a public utility company to use the public domain provided it agreed to use its excess capacity to transmit government power. P. 344 U. S. 23.
(b) The powers conferred by Part II of the Act to regulate public utilities engaged in the interstate transmission and sale of electric energy cannot be construed as a repeal by implication of the powers conferred by Part I to regulate public lands or the use of navigable streams. Pp. 344 U. S. 23-24.
3. A petition to this Court for certiorari, filed within 90 days after the Court of Appeals' second judgment, though more than 90 days after the first, was timely. Pp. 344 U. S. 19-20.
4. There is no merit in the contention that the Commission's motion for clarification was untimely under the rules of the Court of Appeals governing petitions for rehearing, since, assuming that the motion was a petition for rehearing within the meaning of the rules, it was entertained and considered on the merits. P. 21, n 1.
89 U.S.App.D.C. 1, 189 F.2d 665, reversed.
The Federal Power Commission issued to respondent power company, under § 4(e) of the Federal Power Act, a conditional license to construct, operate and maintain a hydroelectric project. The Court of Appeals modified the Commission's order by striking out the conditions, and affirmed the order as thus modified. 89 U.S.App.D.C. 1, 189 F.2d 665. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 941. Reversed, p. 344 U. S. 24.