FPC V. LOUISIANA POWER & LIGHT CO., 406 U. S. 621 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

FPC v. Louisiana Power & Light Co., 406 U.S. 621 (1972)

Federal Power Commission v. Louisiana Power & Light Co.

No. 71-1016

Argued April 19, 1972

Decided June 7, 1972*

406 U.S. 621


When United Gas Pipe Line Co. (United), a jurisdictional pipeline, experienced temporary shortages of natural gas supply forcing it to reduce deliveries to its contract customers, the Federal Power Commission (FPC) asserted its jurisdiction to effect a reasonable curtailment plan covering deliveries to both direct-sales customers and purchasers for resale. While curtailment proceedings were pending before the FPC, Louisiana Power & Light Co. (LP&L), a direct-sales customer of United, brought this action in the District Court against United, seeking to enjoin curtailment of deliveries to LP&L's plants pursuant to any FPC-promulgated plans, including any under FPC Order No. 431. LP&L also sought to enjoin United from seeking FPC certification of United's previously intrastate deliveries through its Green System. The FPC intervened, asserting that both matters were pending before it and any decision by the District Court would therefore invade its primary jurisdiction. The District Court dismissed the action, holding that the FPC had jurisdiction of both proceedings and that LP&L had to exhaust its administrative remedies. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the FPC lacked jurisdiction to curtail deliveries to direct-sales customers, since Section 1(b) of the Natural Gas Act makes the Act applicable only to sales for resale. The Court of Appeals also reversed the District Court's decision on the Green System, holding that the system was wholly intrastate.


1. The FPC has power to regulate curtailment of direct interstate sales of natural gas under the head of its "transportation" jurisdiction in § 1(b), and the prohibition in the proviso clause of that provision withheld from FPC only rate-setting authority with respect to such sales. Pp. 406 U. S. 631-647.

2. The FPC had primary jurisdiction to determine whether the Green System was subject to its authority, and the Court of Appeals

Page 406 U. S. 622

erred in deciding that question. See Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U. S. 41. Pp. 406 U. S. 647-648.

456 F.2d 326, revered.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all members joined except STEWART, J., who took no part in the decision of the cases, and POWELL, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases.

Page 406 U. S. 623

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