FPC V. NEW ENGLAND POWER CO., 415 U. S. 345 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

FPC v. New England Power Co., 415 U.S. 345 (1974)

Federal Power Commission v. New England Power Co.

No. 72-1162

Argued December 3, 1973

Decided March 4, 1974

415 U.S. 345


The Independent Offices Appropriation Act, 1952 (the Act), authorizes each federal agency to prescribe a fee, charge, or price for services provided by the agency "to or for any person (including groups . . . )," determined to be fair and equitable, consideration being taken of "direct and indirect cost to the Government, value to the recipient, public policy or interest served, and other pertinent facts. . . ." Pursuant to the Act, the Federal Power Commission imposed an annual assessment against all jurisdictional electric utilities in proportion to their wholesale sales and interchange of electricity, and against all natural gas companies with operating revenues of $1,000,000 or more in proportion to their deliveries of natural gas in interstate commerce. On petitions for review, the Court of Appeals set aside these annual charges, holding that whole industries are not in the category of those who may be assessed under the Act, the thrust of which reaches only specific charges for specific services to specific individuals or companies.


1. While the Act includes services rendered "to or for any person (including groups . . . )," since the Act is to be construed to cover only "fees," and not "taxes," National Cable Television Assn. v. United States, ante, p. 415 U. S. 336, the "fee" presupposes an application for the agency's services, whether by a single company or group of companies or the receipt of a specific beneficial service. P. 415 U. S. 349

2. The Act is to be construed as authorizing a reasonable charge to "each identifiable recipient for a measurable unit or amount of Government service or property from which he derives a special benefit," and as precluding a charge for services rendered

"when the identification of the ultimate beneficiary is obscure, and the services can be primarily considered as benefitting broadly the general public."

Pp. 415 U. S. 349-351.

151 U.S.App.D.C. 371, 467 F.2d 425, affirmed.

Page 415 U. S. 346

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, WHITE, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. MARSHALL., J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 415 U. S. 352. BLACKMUN and POWELL, JJ., took no part in the decision of the case.

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