On November 16, 2017, twelve New England electricity consumers (“Plaintiffs”) filed a class action lawsuit in in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against two large New England energy companies, Eversource Energy (“Eversource”) and Avangrid, Inc. (“Avangrid”), arguing that they raised power prices by artificially constraining capacity on the Algonquin Gas Transmission Pipeline (“Algonquin”).  Specifically, the Plaintiffs argue that for the past three years, Eversource and Avangrid have increased power prices by 20% by reserving more capacity than was needed on Algonquin with the intent to cancel the reservation when it was too late for the pipeline capacity to be resold to other market participants.  Plaintiffs allege that this behavior was a misuse of Eversource’s and Avangrid’s market power, in violation of state and federal unjust enrichment, consumer protection and antitrust laws. Continue Reading Lawsuit Accuses New England Natural Gas Companies of Withholding Pipeline Capacity

On December 7, 2017, Kevin McIntyre was sworn in as FERC Chairman.  The addition of Chairman McIntyre now completes a full, five-member Commission.  On the same day, Chairman McIntyre requested a 30-day extension of the deadline for FERC to act on Department of Energy (“DOE”) Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed rulemaking concerning grid resiliency pricing. Continue Reading McIntyre Sworn in as FERC Chairman, Requests Extension to Address DOE NOPR

On December 6, 2017, FERC denied requests for rehearing of its prior order (“February Order”) authorizing Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (“Transco”) to build and operate its Atlantic Sunrise Project.  A variety of protestors raised several claims in their requests for rehearing, including that the assessment of the public purpose and need of the project was incorrect and that the analysis regarding the project’s effect on climate change was inadequate.  FERC rejected all challenges to its February Order for several reasons, concluding that the claims were meritless. Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing of Atlantic Sunrise Project Pipeline Approval

On December 5, 2017, FERC approved a trio of proposed revisions to the Open Access Transmission, Energy, and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”).  These revisions all pertained to MISO’s Competitive Developer Selection Process, memorialized in Tariff Attachment FF, which sets out the process for identifying certain transmission facilities within a regional transmission project as well as qualified developers to construct the facilities.  FERC approved the proposed revisions after finding that they would improve MISO’s Competitive Developer Selection Process and make it more efficient. Continue Reading FERC Approves MISO Tariff Revisions Related to its Competitive Developer Selection Process

On November 17, 2017, FERC conditionally accepted a proposal filed by the PJM Interconnection, LLC (“PJM”) to establish pseudo-tie requirements for new external resources desiring to participate in PJM’s forward capacity auction, as well as a transition period to allow existing “pseudo-tie” resources to comply with the new requirements.  PJM’s proposal was given a May 9, 2017 effective date, provided that it submits further compliance filings addressing FERC’s concerns in its order. Continue Reading FERC Conditionally Accepts PJM’s Pseudo-Tie Requirements for External Resources Participating in Forward Capacity Auctions

On December 1, 2017, FERC concluded that it has exclusive jurisdiction over the participation of energy efficiency resources (“EERs”) in wholesale electricity markets.  FERC also found that: (1) state or local regulators may not bar or restrict EER participation in wholesale electricity markets, unless given express authority to do so by FERC; and (2) FERC’s previous Order No. 719 on demand response may not be interpreted to permit a state or local regulator to exercise an opt-out and bar or restrict the participation of EERs. Continue Reading FERC Claims Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Energy Efficiency Resources in Wholesale Electricity Markets

On November 28, 2017, FERC accepted in part and rejected in part the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) two sets of tariff revisions concerning natural gas system limitations on CAISO’s system and market operations.  Specifically, FERC accepted CAISO’s proposed extension, for one additional year, of temporary Aliso Canyon tariff revisions that FERC previously accepted on an interim basis.  However, FERC rejected CAISO’s proposal to make other interim measures permanent and to extend their application to the entire CAISO-operated western grid, including the CAISO-operated Western Energy Imbalance Market (“EIM”). Continue Reading FERC Grants Partial Extension of Aliso Canyon Related Tariff Revisions

On November 30, 2017, FERC upheld its denial of Rover Pipeline, LLC’s (“Rover”) request for a blanket construction certificate—which would have allowed Rover to perform certain routine construction activities and operations—in connection with the Rover Pipeline Project.  FERC determined that it was not confident Rover would comply with the blanket construction certificate’s environmental requirements due to Rover’s demolition of a historic property along the project’s route during the certificate proceeding.  FERC also concluded that Rover intentionally circumvented the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”) by purchasing and demolishing the property. Continue Reading FERC Affirms Denial of Blanket Construction Certificate for Rover Pipeline

On November 29, 2017, Richard Glick was sworn in as the latest FERC Commissioner.  Following his nomination for the position by President Trump in August, Commissioner Glick was confirmed by the Senate on November 2, 2017 (see November 7, 2017 edition of the WER).  Commissioner Glick was previously the Democratic General Counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Commissioner Glick will serve the remainder of a term ending in June 2022.  Commissioner Glick will serve alongside current FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Robert Powelson.  The swearing-in of Commissioner Glick brings FERC’s Commission one step closer to a full five-member Commission.  The Senate has confirmed Kevin McIntyre to fill the last seat on the Commission, but he has not yet been sworn in.

On November 16, 2017, FERC denied requests for rehearing by various parties (“Petitioners”) and a request for rehearing and stay by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) of FERC’s approval of Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C.’s (“Millennium”) Valley Lateral Project.  In doing so, FERC rejected Petitioners’ claims that (1) FERC’s National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) analysis was inadequate, (2) Millennium had not demonstrated need for the project, and (3) FERC lacked jurisdiction to approve the project.  FERC also dismissed NYSDEC’s argument that FERC failed to consider the downstream greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions resulting from the Valley Lateral Project, holding that NYSDEC’s request was untimely. Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing and Stay of Millennium’s Valley Lateral Project