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United States District Court for the District of Maine
December 2, 2019, Decided; December 2, 2019, Filed
ORDER ON MOTION TO EXCLUDE WITNESS
The Court denies a petitioner's motion to exclude an expert witness designated by the respondents because the Court concludes that the expert is qualified to give the opinions he has rendered, that his opinions are likely to be helpful to the jury, and that the petitioner's other objections do not justify exclusion. Instead, the petitioner is free to test the expert's qualifications, his knowledge of the facts in the case, and his opinions at the crucible of cross-examination, by the introduction of contrary evidence, and through careful attention [*2] to proper jury instructions.
A. Procedural Background
With jury selection set for April 7, 2020 and trial scheduled from April 27 through May 1, 2020, on August 27, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filed a motion to exclude one of the Respondents' expert witnesses, Thomas L. Welch.1 Pet'r's Mot. to Exclude Thomas L. Welch (ECF No. 174) (Pet'r's Mot.). On September 17, 2019, Richard Silkman and Competitive Energy Service, LLC (CES) responded, objecting to the FERC motion. Defs.' Opp'n to FERC Mot. to Exclude Expert (ECF No. 179) (Resp'ts' Opp'n).2 On October 1, 2019, FERC filed its reply. Pet'r's Reply in Support of Its Mot. to Exclude Thomas L. Welch (ECF No. 180) (Pet'r's Reply).
B. Factual Overview
1. FERC's Allegations
In its Order on Motions for Summary Judgment dated January 4, 2019, the Court described in detail the complex factual and legal underpinnings of this case. Summ. J. Order at 2-69. FERC claims that the Respondents "engag[ed] in a fraudulent scheme to manipulate the ISO New England, Inc. (ISO-NE) Day-Ahead [*3] Load Response Program from July 2007 to February 2008." Pet. for an Order Affirming the Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n's Aug. 29, 2013 Orders Assessing Civil Penalties Against Richard Silkman and Competitive Energy Servs. LLC ¶ 1 (ECF No. 1). ISO-NE is "an independent, non-profit, Regional Transmission Organization serving Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont." Id. ¶ 2. It "ensures the day-to-day reliable operation of New England's bulk electric energy generation and transmission system by overseeing and ensuring the fair administration of the region's wholesale electricity markets." Id. ISO-NE "administers load response programs that encourage large electricity users to reduce their electricity consumption or 'load' during periods of high or peak demand on the bulk electric system." Id. ¶ 3. Under a program administered by ISO-NE known as the Day Ahead Load Response Program (DALRP), participants were allowed to offer "electricity reductions for hours in the next day when New England experienced high electricity prices" and were required to actually reduce their consumption of electricity. Id. ¶ 4. When a business reduced its electrical needs for [*4] a peak period, the DALRP "would pay [the user] for the electricity savings resulting from its" reduction. Id. ¶ 5.
In this case, FERC alleges that Dr. Silkman and CES helped a CES client create a false baseline to foster "the illusion that the client was reducing consumption of electricity." Id. ¶ 10. As a consequence, FERC maintains, the client was paid "for demand response that they neither intended to provide nor actually provided." Id. FERC concluded that Dr. Silkman's and CES's "scheme to extract payments for phantom load reductions was a violation of the FPA's prohibition of electricity market manipulation, 16 U.S.C. § 824v(a) (2012), and the corresponding prohibition in the Commission's regulations, 18 C.F.R. § 1c.2 (2013)." Id. FERC brought this lawsuit to enforce its civil penalty of $1,250,000 against Dr. Silkman and of $7,500,000 against CES and to disgorge $166,841.13 in unjust profits. Id. ¶ 12.
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2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208135 *; 111 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 7; 2019 WL 6467811
FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, Petitioner, v. RICHARD SILKMAN, et al., Respondents.
Prior History: FERC v. Silkman, 233 F. Supp. 3d 201, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10902 (D. Me., Jan. 26, 2017)
electricity, expert testimony, wholesale, energy, flaws, cross-examination, expertise, Rebuttal, Respondents', load, expert opinion, designated, reliable, Reply, motion to exclude, baseline, retail, views