Entergy Louisiana, Inc. v. Louisiana Public Service Commission, 539 U.S. 39, 9 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 39 (2003)

Opinion of the Court



The filed rate doctrine requires "that interstate power rates filed with FERC or fixed by FERC must be given binding effect by state utility commissions determining intrastate rates." Nantahala, 476 U. S., at 962. When the filed rate doctrine applies to state regulators, it does so as a matter of federal pre-emption through the Supremacy Clause. Arkansas Louisiana Gas Co. v. Hall, 453 U. S. 571, 581-582 (1981).

In Nantahala and MP&L, the Court applied the filed rate doctrine to hold that FERC-mandated cost allocations could not be second-guessed by state regulators. Nantahala involved two corporate siblings, Nantahala Power & Light Company and Tapoco, Inc., the former of which served retail customers in North Carolina. Both Nantahala and Tapoco provided power to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which in turn sold power back to them pursuant to an agreement between all three parties. But the power was not purchased at a uniform price. Low-cost power was made available to both Nantahala and Tapoco in consideration for the right to pour all of their power into the TVA grid. This low-cost power was apportioned 80% to Tapoco, which served exclusively the corporate parent of Tapoco and Nantahala, and 20% to Nantahala. Nantahala purchased the remainder of its power requirements at higher prices. FERC approved this cost allocation with a slight modification, so that Nantahala received 22.5% of the low-cost entitlement power. However, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the North Carolina Utilities Commission's (NCUC) determination that Nantahala's share of the low-cost power was properly 24.5%. This resulted in a lower cost computation for Nantahala, and therefore lower rates for North Carolina retail customers, than would have obtained if FERC's cost allocation had been respected by NCUC.


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