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The finding of the Federal Power Commission as to the facts, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. 16 U.S.C.S. § 825l (b).
The Federal Power Commission determined that it had jurisdiction, under 201(b) of the Federal Power Act, over a Florida electric utility company which had only intrastate facilities but which, as a member of a state pool, was interconnected with a "bus" transmission line of a second Florida company, which second company, in turn, was interconnected with and supplied power to a Georgia utility company. The Commission's finding of jurisdiction was based on expert opinion testimony, uncontradicted by empirical evidence and in accord with the known facts as to electricity and its transmission, that at the moment when the first Florida company supplied power to the bus, it was "commingled" with other power furnished to the bus and some of such power went out of state through the second Florida company's interconnection with the Georgia company. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit set aside the Commission's finding of jurisdiction as not supported by sufficient evidence of actual interstate transmission of the first Florida company's electric energy. The Commission appealed.
Under the circumstances, did the Federal Power Commission have jurisdiction over the electric utility company?
On review, the Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the Commission's finding of jurisdiction was to be assessed by the substantial evidence test, rather than by standards of certainty. The Court held that because this was a purely factual question within the area of competence of an administrative agency created by Congress and the resolution of it depended on engineering and scientific questions, it would recognize the Commission's technical expertise and experience, and defer to its analysis. The Court held that the determination was supported by well-reasoned expert testimony constituting substantial evidence.