Friday, March 21, 2014

FERC Issues Show Cause Order to Interstate Pipelines to Comply with Capacity Release Regulations

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At its monthly meeting on March 20, 2014, the Commission initiated a show cause proceeding, pursuant to section 5 of the Natural Gas Act. The Order requires all pipelines to either (1) revise their tariffs in accordance with the Commission’s capacity release posting regulations; or (2) otherwise demonstrate that they are in full compliance.
Under Order No. 636-A, pipelines must post offers to release or to purchase released capacity, as well as the terms and conditions of such offers, on their websites for a reasonable period. The purpose of these postings is to facilitate communications between buyers and sellers of capacity. These postings provide releasing shippers greater information as to who is interested in obtaining released capacity and what rates they are willing to pay, as well as providing parties interested in purchasing released capacity a greater ability to communicate that interest to potential releasing shippers. This increased communication between buyers and sellers of released capacity is intended to maximize the benefits of the capacity release programs and promote efficient use of firm capacity by those who value capacity most.

At an April 2013 technical conference, comments were made expressing interest in the ability for buyers of capacity to post offers to purchase capacity when needed (for example, to transport gas to a gas-fired electric generator). Based on these comments, the Commission decided to evaluate whether pipelines are in compliance with its posting regulations, 18 C.F.R. 284.8(d). A review of ten pipeline websites revealed that none provided a location to post such offers. Furthermore, none of the tariffs reviewed contained provisions providing for the posting of offers to purchase released capacity or describing the terms to be included in such offers. This review prompted the Commission’s show cause order.

Additionally, the Commission requested that the North American Energy Standards Board (“NAESB”) develop standards specifying: “(1) the information required for requests to acquire capacity; (2) the methods by which such information is to be exchanged; and (3) the location of the information on a pipeline’s website.” In their compliance filings, each pipeline must explain how it will comply with 18 C.F.R. 284.8(d) until NAESB develops, and the Commission implements, these standards.

All pipelines must submit their filings within 60 days of the Order, by May 19, 2014. Each filing will be assigned a separate RP docket and provide for intervention by interested parties. In addition, any person wishing to intervene in the show cause order docket (RP14-442) must do so by April 1, 2014.

If you have questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this article, please feel free to contact us.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jennings, Strouss & Salmon Expands Phoenix Office with the Addition of Lindsay G. Leavitt

PHOENIX, Ariz. (March 20, 2014) – Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, a leading Phoenix-based law firm, is pleased to announce that Lindsay G. Leavitt has joined the firm as a litigation associate in the Phoenix office.

“Lindsay’s experience with general commercial litigation, personal injury, and labor and employment disputes fits nicely with the firm’s diverse commercial litigation practice,” states Eric Gere, Chair of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Department. “In addition, his highly-honed negotiation skills and proficiency with handling complex cases makes him a great addition to the firm.”

Leavitt focuses his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, insurance defense, labor and employment, and administrative law. He earned a J.D. from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and a B. Ed. from the University of Alberta.

“Jennings Strouss has a long-standing history of excellence and I am thrilled to work with the firm’s strong team of talented litigators,” said Leavitt. “I look forward to contributing to the high level of service Jennings Strouss provides to clients.”

About Jennings, Strouss & Salmon
Jennings Strouss & Salmon is one of the Southwest's leading law firms, providing legal counsel for over 70 years through its offices in Phoenix, Peoria, and Yuma, Arizona; and Washington, D.C. The firm's primary areas of practice include agribusiness; bankruptcy, reorganization and creditors’ rights; construction; corporate and securities; employee benefits and pensions; energy; family law and domestic relations; health care; intellectual property; labor and employment; and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
litigation; real estate; surety and fidelity; tax; and trust and estates. For additional information please visit
Contact:  Dawn O. Anderson  |  |  602.495.2806

Monday, March 17, 2014

Employers May Lose Benefit of Overtime Exemption for Some Employees

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), most employees are entitled to receive overtime compensation (1.5 times their regular rate of pay) for all hours they work above 40 hours in a workweek.  However, the FLSA also exempts certain executive, administrative and professional employees who are paid on a salaried basis and make at least $455 per week.  President Obama announced last week that he is directing the U.S. Department of Labor (the agency charged with enforcing the FLSA) to amend its regulations to raise that salary threshold.

The legal effect of this change is that employers will have to begin paying overtime compensation to some of their employees who would otherwise be exempt from the overtime pay requirement.  For example, a store manager of a restaurant earning a $25,000 salary who is exempt under the current regulations would no longer be exempt under the new regulations.  The employer will either have to reconfigure the job duties or pay structure of the job, or it will have to determine what that employee’s regular rate of pay is (which will vary from week to week, depending on the number of hours the employee actually works) and then pay that employee additional compensation based on that regular rate, above and beyond the agreed-upon salary, for every hour worked above 40.

Employers affected by this change should consult with their attorney to determine what options may be available.

John J. Egbert is Chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Practice Group and serves as the firm's General Counsel. He assists employers with all types of employment litigation, including discrimination, wrongful discharge, wage and hour and non-compete agreements. Mr. Egbert also frequently advises clients on employment policies and procedures, and represents employers before administrative agencies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Increase Research Funding for Arizona’s Public Universities

In a recent op-ed published by the Arizona Republic, Richard Silverman, with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, discusses the importance of increased research funding for Arizona’s public universities. Silverman asserts that increased research funding will not only result in a 6-to-1 return on investment, but will make Arizona more competitive in the bioscience industry, which will ultimately attract more funding, research and industry partners. Jennings Strouss is equipped to support the needs of the biotechnology industry, providing legal expertise, as well as lobbying services through its affiliate, B3 Strategies. For more information, please visit and

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

FERC Revises the EQR Data Dictionary and Announces a Technical Conference

In an order issued this afternoon, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) adopted further changes to the Electric Quarterly Report (EQR) Data Dictionary. FERC stated that it adopted version 3.0 of the EQR Data Dictionary in order to implement the revised EQR filing process and to update the list of Balancing Authority names and abbreviations reflecting changes in the official source of such data. FERC ordered that the EQR Data Dictionary version 3.0 become effective on the date published in the Federal Register and that the updated EQR Data Dictionary be applied to EQR filings beginning with the Q3 2013 EQR. FERC last revised the EQR Data Dictionary in Order No. 768-A, issued on April 18, 2013.

On March 4, 2014, FERC issued a public notice scheduling a Technical Conference for March 26, 2014 to demonstrate its new electronic EQR filing system. FERC will provide a live webcast of this Technical Conference. FERC also encouraged live and webcast participants to register in advance of the Technical Conference. During the March 26 Technical Conference, FERC staff will show participants examples of filing EQRs. The March 26 Technical Conference follows the Technical Conference FERC held in January.

As previously discussed in the Energy Law Times, the filing period for the third quarter 2013 EQRs is between April 1, 2014 and April 30, 2014. The filing period for the fourth quarter 2013 EQRs is between May 1, 2014 and May 31, 2014. The filing period for the first quarter 2014 EQRs is between June 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014. All subsequent filing periods are during the month following the end of each calendar quarter. Additional EQR updates are available on the FERC EQR webpage.

If you have questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this article, please feel free to contact us.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Department of Labor Announces New Funding Priorities

On March 4, 2014, the United States Department of Labor announced certain funding priorities in the President’s budget proposal including an increase of $41 million to fund enforcement of wage and hour laws and FMLA compliance. Additional Department of Labor budget priorities are:
  • Nearly $14 million to fund the misclassification of workers as independent contractors initiative.
  • $565 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to seek employer compliance with safety and health regulations and inspect hazardous workplaces, and strengthen protection of whistleblowers.
  • The budget also includes $377 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration and $107 million for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces equal employment opportunity at federal contractors.
Keith Overholt is a Member of Jennings, Strouss & Salmon's, Corporate Securities and Finance and Labor and Employment departments.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Social Media and Your First Amendment Rights

Jennings, Strouss & Salmon attorney Jimmie Pursell discusses social media and your First Amendment rights with 12 News of Phoenix.

See the clip here.