On June 21, 2017, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”) upheld FERC’s determination that American Transmission Systems (“ATS”) and Duke Energy Ohio, Inc. (“Duke”) are not required to pay for projects that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) approved after ATS and Duke announced separately that they would be withdrawing from MISO, but prior to their actual departures.

Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Holds that Departing Transmission Owners are Not Responsible for MISO Multi-Value Project Costs

On June 23, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) held that Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (“Millennium”) lacked standing to challenge whether the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“Department”) had unlawfully delayed issuing a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) § 401 water quality certificate for Millennium’s pipeline project by failing to act on Millennium’s application within the one year statutory period.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit stated that even if the Department had unlawfully delayed issuing the CWA § 401 certificate, the Department’s delay would operate as a waiver of the certification requirement.  As a result, the D.C. Circuit explained that Millennium could ask FERC to determine whether the Department waived the CWA § 401 certification requirement, and if so, whether FERC would authorize Millennium to begin construction of its pipeline project. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Rules Waiver of CWA Certification Requirement for Pipeline Project Does Not Create Standing for Pipeline

On June 20, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit” or “the court”) rejected petitions for review challenging FERC’s approval of capacity market rules set by the PJM Interconnection, LLC (“PJM”) in 2014.  The D.C. Circuit held that FERC’s approval of the rules was adequately explained and within its statutory authority under the Federal Power Act.  In particular, the D.C. Circuit rejected assertions from various environmental, clean energy, and public utility petitioners that the new capacity market rules unduly discriminated against variable energy resources. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Rejects Challenges to PJM’s Capacity Market Rules, Including Year-Round Requirement Impacting Renewable Energy Generators

On June 22, 2017, both chambers of the New York State Legislature unanimously passed legislation—Senate Bill 5190 and Assembly Bill 6571 (collectively, the “Bill”)—which would require the New York Public Service Commission (“NYPSC”) to commence a proceeding to establish an Energy Storage Deployment Program for the State of New York within ninety days of the Bill’s effective date.  The Bill would also require that, no later than January 1, 2018, the NYPSC establish a target for the installation of energy storage systems through 2030, and programs that will enable the State of New York to meet those targets.  The Bill now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo for signature. Continue Reading New York Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill Directing NYPSC to Establish Energy Storage Target by January 1, 2018

On June 8, 2017, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) released a report on the August 2016 Blue Cut Fire, which resulted in the loss of 1,200 megawatts (“MW”) of solar photovoltaic (“PV”) power generation.  NERC’s report contains recommendations for avoiding similar incidents by reconfiguring solar inverters, the devices that convert solar energy from direct current to alternating current. Continue Reading NERC Recommends Inverter Changes After California Fire Disrupts Solar Generation

On June 7, 2017, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would, among other things, revise the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) to require FERC to (1) review two proposed interstate pipeline projects together under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”) if the two pipelines are proposed within one year of each other and would be within 100 miles apart and (2) ensure that open houses regarding a proposed pipeline occur in each county in which the pipeline would be located.  In addition, on June 13, 2017, Representative H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Continue Reading New Legislation Introduced Regarding Review of Proposed Natural Gas Pipelines

On June 8, 2017, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) released the draft final proposal of Phase 2 of its energy storage and distributed energy resources (“ESDER”) initiative.  The aim of the proposal is to lower the barrier to entry and market participation for various transmission grid-connected energy storage and distribution-connected resources. “Integrating these resources,” the proposal states, “will help lower carbon emissions and add operational flexibility.” Continue Reading CAISO Issues Draft Final Proposal on Energy Storage and Distributed Energy Resources

On June 6, 2017, the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted to advance the nominations of FERC Nominees Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to the Senate floor.  The Committee approved both Nominee Chatterjee and Nominee Powelson by a vote of 20-3 each.  The vote follows the Nominees’ public testimony before the Committee on May 25, 2017 (see May 31, 2017 edition of the WER).

If the Nominees are confirmed by the Senate and sworn in, FERC will have a three-Commissioner quorum that is required to conduct business under the Department of Energy Organization Act (see February 21, 2017 edition of the WER).

On June 8, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (“Fifth Circuit”) dismissed Total Gas & Power N.A., Inc., Aaron Hall, and Therese Tran’s (collectively, “Total”) arguments that the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) provides federal district courts – not FERC – with exclusive authority to adjudicate violations of the NGA and assess civil penalties, finding that Total’s claims were unripe because FERC neither has determined that Total has violated the NGA nor assessed any civil penalties.  The Fifth Circuit also dismissed Total’s arguments that FERC’s procedures for appointing Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) and conducting hearings are unconstitutional.  Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Dismisses Total’s Arguments Against FERC’s NGA Enforcement Authority as Unripe