On October 4, 2019, FERC rejected without prejudice a stated rate tariff and Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”), among other filings, by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. (“Tri-State”) and its subsidiary Thermal Cogen Partnership, L.P. (“Thermal Cogen”). Tri-State, an electric cooperative previously exempt from FERC’s jurisdiction, submitted the filings in an attempt to submit to FERC regulation after Tri-State admitted Mieco, Inc., a jurisdictional public utility, to its Board of Directors. FERC concluded that Tri-State’s stated rate tariff and OATT filings were patently deficient because they failed to provide the supporting data required for FERC to assess whether the proposed rates were just and reasonable, and for potentially interested parties to determine how the rates might affect them. Continue Reading FERC Rejects Tri-State Proposal to Become FERC-Jurisdictional

On October 4, 2019, FERC staff issued a report for users, operators, and owners of the bulk-power system to increase compliance with mandatory Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) standards and improve cybersecurity for the nation’s electric grid. In the report, FERC staff recommended, among other things, that entities:

  1. verify employees’ recurring authorizations for using removable media;
  2. ensure all employees and third-party contractors complete required trainings and properly maintain training records;
  3. consider all generation assets when categorizing bulk electric system cyber systems associated with transmission facilities; and
  4. review all firewalls to ensure there are no obsolete or overly permissive firewall access control rules in use.

Continue Reading FERC Staff Offer Recommendations for CIP Reliability Audits and Cybersecurity

On October 8, 2019, FERC accepted ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) public and private versions of a filing containing the de-list bids (“De-List Bids”) and substation auction test prices (“Test Prices”) for the fourteenth Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA 14”), to be held in February 2020 and to become effective August 27, 2019. In the process, FERC also granted ISO-NE’s requested waiver of FERC’s regulations requiring parties requesting privileged treatment of their filings to provide a copy of such non-public documents to intervenors who execute a protective agreement. Continue Reading FERC Grants ISO-NE’s Request to Prevent Disclosure of Confidential Retirement Bid

On October 2, 2019, revisions to the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) Membership Agreement went into effect without an order, as FERC lacked a quorum to rule on SPP’s proposal due to Commissioner Richard Glick’s ongoing recusal in certain proceedings at FERC (see October 3, 2019 edition of the WER). SPP’s filing on August 2, 2019 proposed new definitions for the terms Load Serving Entity (“LSE”) and non-LSE to its Membership Agreement. A joint statement from Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee indicated that they would have accepted the revisions as requested.   

Continue Reading SPP Membership Agreement Changes Made Effective by Operation of Law Due to FERC Recusal

On September 30, 2019, FERC issued two orders denying requests for rehearing of orders that respectively granted Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”) and Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”) 50-basis point return-on-equity adders for their continued participation in the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) (“RTO-Participation Incentive”). PG&E requested the RTO-Participation Incentive as part of its nineteenth transmission owner tariff filing; SCE requested the RTO-Participation Incentive as part of its 2018 transmission revenue requirement filing. FERC granted both requests in two separate orders issued in 2017. The California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) and Transmission Agency of Northern California requested rehearing of both 2017 orders; the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (“SMUD”) also requested rehearing of the 2017 order granting PG&E the RTO-Participation Incentive (CAISO, CPUC and SMUD are collectively referred to as the “California Parties”). FERC’s September 30, 2019 orders denying the California Parties’ rehearing requests concluded that is appropriate to grant both PG&E and SCE the RTO-Participation Incentive because California law does not mandate that either utility participate in CAISO. Continue Reading FERC Affirms Transmission Incentives to California Utilities for Regional Transmission Organization Participation

On September 30, 2019, FERC accepted in part and rejected in part, the California Independent System Operator’s (“CAISO”) July 2, 2019 proposed revisions (“July 2 Filing”)  to its open access transmission tariff (“Tariff”) to include three unrelated mitigation measures designed to facilitate the participation of fast-ramping hydroelectric resources in the western energy imbalance market (“EIM”). FERC accepted two aspects of CAISO’s proposal related to the mitigation timing (the “Mitigation Timing” proposal and a hydro default energy bid (“DEB”) proposal, referred to as the “Hydro DEB” proposal), but rejected CAISO’s proposal to allow an EIM entity balancing authority area (“BAA”) in the real-time market to limit dispatch of incremental net exports under certain conditions (the “Net Export Limit” proposal). Continue Reading FERC Accepts in Part and Rejects in Part CAISO’s Proposal to Modify Its Open Access Transmission Tariff to Accommodate Hydroelectric Resources

On September 27, 2019, FERC approved CAISO tariff revisions to its voluntary Capacity Procurement Mechanism (“CPM”) and mandatory Reliability-Must-Run (“RMR”) framework such that all backstop procurement from resources that would otherwise retire or mothball will be addressed through CAISO’s RMR provisions. While FERC has traditionally considered RMR contracts as measures of last resort, FERC found it just and reasonable for CAISO to expand its use of such contracts to address evolving operational needs due, in part, to the increased penetration of variable energy resources in California. Commissioner Glick partially dissented, arguing that the approved tariff changes essentially provide CAISO “unchecked authority” to enter into out-of-market contracts to meet its resource adequacy needs. Continue Reading FERC Allows CAISO to Expand use of RMR Contracts, Drawing Partial Dissent from Commissioner Glick

On September 30, 2019, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate James P. Danly for Commissioner of FERC. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Danly would fill the seat vacated by the passing of former Chairman Kevin McIntyre for a term to expire on June 30, 2023, resulting in three Republican Commissioners and one Democratic Commissioner. Continue Reading President Trump to Nominate James P. Danly for Commissioner of FERC

On September 19, 2019, one Independent and four Democratic U.S. Senators wrote a letter to FERC asking for an explanation of three actions the Senators believed showed an “apparent erosion” of the “vital role” FERC plays in preventing fraud and manipulation in U.S. energy markets and financial markets: (1) the decline in FERC-initiated civil penalty actions and the abrupt termination of non-public investigations without explanation; (2) the elimination of the Division of Energy Market Oversight (“DEMO”); and (3) the rescission of its policy on issuing Notices of Alleged Violations (“NAVs”) for investigations. Those Senators were Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Angus King (I-ME).

Continue Reading U.S. Senators Ask FERC to Explain “Apparent Erosion” of FERC’s Role in Preventing Market Manipulation

On September 16, 2019, FERC accepted revisions to the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) tariff that: (1) establish a process by which existing capacity sellers can request removal of their capacity resource’s status; and (2) revise the process for must-offer exceptions due to an existing seller’s physical inability to meet its capacity requirements. The changes clarify how existing capacity resources may, under certain circumstances, effectively elect to “opt out” of PJM’s annual capacity auctions (termed Based Residual Auctions, or “BRAs”). Continue Reading FERC Allows PJM to Make Changes to RPM Capacity Market, No Word on MOPR or 2019 Auction Timing