On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) dismissed Portland General Electric Company’s (“PGE”) and PáTu Wind Farm LLC’s (“PáTu”) petitions for review of FERC’s orders finding that PGE must purchase all of the power delivered by PáTu pursuant to their power purchase agreement (“PPA”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”), but that PGE was not required to use dynamic scheduling.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit held, among other things, that: (1) it lacked jurisdiction to review FERC’s resolution of PGE and PáTu’s PURPA dispute because the orders were merely declaratory; (2) circuit court review of PURPA section 210(h) enforcement actions occurs on appeal from district courts; and (3) FERC’s Federal Power Act (“FPA”)-based regulations cited to by PáTu in support of its claim that FERC should require PGE to use dynamic scheduling only apply to the transmission customer-transmission provider relationship, which was unlike PáTu and PGE’s relationship. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Dismisses PGE Petition for Review over PURPA Purchase Obligation, Denies PáTu Petition on the Merits

On April 14, 2017, Renewable Energy Systems Americas (“RES) and Invenergy Storage Development LLC (“Invenergy”) (collectively, the “Complainants”) filed a complaint with FERC against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”), alleging that changes PJM made to a dispatch signal used in its Regulation market were unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory, and therefore in violation of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and FERC precedent. Continue Reading RES and Invenergy Allege PJM’s Change to Regulation Market Dispatch Signal Harms Storage Resources

On April 14, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“DC Circuit”) held that FERC erred in setting the base return on equity (“ROE”) for ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) at 10.57 percent.  The DC Circuit granted a petition filed by a group of New England transmission owners (“NETOs”), and a separate petition filed by a group of wholesale transmission customers and other consumer-side stakeholders (collectively, “Customers”) located in the New England region.  The DC Circuit vacated the underlying FERC order and remanded the case to FERC for further consideration.

Continue Reading DC Circuit Remands FERC Order on ISO New England Base ROE

On April 18, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) upheld FERC orders that (1) required ISO New England (“ISO-NE”) and its participating transmission owners (“TOs”) to remove right of first refusal (“ROFR”) provisions from their Transmission Operating Agreement (“TOA”) that granted incumbent transmission facilities the option to construct any new transmission facilities within their footprint; and (2) permitted ISO-NE to consider state policy goals in evaluating transmission needs during the Order No. 1000 transmission process.  Of note, the D.C. Circuit affirmed FERC’s finding that the Mobile-Sierra presumption against abrogating negotiated contract provisions was overcome because the TOA’s existing ROFR provisions “severely harm the public interest.”  Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Backs FERC Removal of ISO-NE Right of First Refusal and Consideration of State Policies in Transmission Planning

On April 20, 2017, staff from the ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”), presented a proposal to its ten-member Board of Directors on how to better incorporate state-subsidized new resources into ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (“FCM”).  The proposal contemplates a two-stage process whereby retiring resources that clear the annual Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”) can transfer their capacity obligations to state-subsidized generators in exchange for payment and permanent retirement.  If approved by the Board of Directors, stakeholder discussions could begin in May, with associated tariff revisions filed with FERC in December. Continue Reading ISO-NE Staff Kicks off Consideration of Capacity Market Reforms to Manage State-Subsidized Generators

On April 6, 2017, Potomac Economics, Ltd. (“Potomac Economics”), the market monitor for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”), New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”), and ISO New England Inc., requested that FERC eliminate PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) requirement that external Capacity Performance Resources must be pseudo-tied to PJM.  In doing so, Potomac Economics argued that, among other issues, the requirement has caused congestion management issues for MISO and could impose similar and more significant costs on NYISO. Continue Reading Potomac Economics Requests That FERC Eliminate PJM’s Pseudo-Tie Requirement for External Capacity Performance Resources

On April 13, 2017 the Energy Storage Association (“ESA”) filed a complaint with FERC, alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) had unilaterally implemented a series of changes to its Regulation market without FERC’s review and approval, in violation of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).  ESA contended that its members who participate in the Regulation market had “suffered significant and detrimental financial harm” as a result of PJM’s changes, and that ESA was filing its complaint “to compel PJM to give the Commission the opportunity to determine whether each of these changes are just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory.” Continue Reading Energy Storage Association Alleges Changes to PJM Regulation Market Violate FPA

On April 10, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of FERC, argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (“Fifth Circuit”) that a recent district court order requiring de novo review of market manipulation allegations under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) is inapplicable to similar circumstances under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).  FERC’s counsel challenged Total Gas & Power North America Inc.’s (“Total”) reliance on a district court order in FERC v. Barclays Bank PLC et al., (“Barclays Order”) (see April 10, 2017 edition of the WER), arguing that it does not support reading a “de novo review” option into the NGA because that order interpreted a separate FPA provision for which there is no parallel under the NGA. Continue Reading FERC Counsel Argues that Review of Market Manipulation Allegations under FPA Are Distinct from Similar Circumstances under NGA

On April 4, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“DC Circuit”) held that FERC had erred in finding that the terms of an interconnection agreement between NextEra Desert Center Blythe, LLC (“NextEra”), Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”), and the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) clearly and unambiguously bars NextEra from receiving Congestion Revenue Rights (“CRR”).  The DC Circuit remanded the case to FERC for consideration in light of the identified ambiguity.

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Rules Against FERC in NextEra Contract Interpretation Dispute

On March 31, 2017, a group of California parties, consisting of various public power utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission (the “Complainants”), alleged in their complaint at FERC that Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (“PG&E”) proposed transmission rates in its eighteenth rate filing (“TO-18”) contained significant errors and overstated expenses.  The Complainants requested that FERC investigate the proposed TO-18 rates, which FERC had already set for hearing and settlement judge procedures in a separate proceeding. In addition, the Complainants requested that FERC exercise its authority to supplement the refund effective date established for the proposed TO-18 rates, in the event that the record eventually justified establishing a revenue requirement below PG&E’s last “clean” rate, established through settlement in its seventeenth rate filing (“TO-17”). Continue Reading California Parties Request Refunds from PG&E Based on Alleged Errors in Proposed Transmission Revenue Requirement