On June 20, 2019, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur announced on Twitter that she will be leaving FERC at the end of August after serving on the Commission for nine years.  She first announced her intent to leave the Commission in January of this year.  In her recent announcement, Commissioner LaFleur noted that the July open meeting will be her last meeting as a commissioner.  FERC currently has four members—Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee, who are Republicans, and Commissioners LaFleur and Richard Glick, who are Democrats.  Assuming no nominee is confirmed by the end of August, Commissioner LaFleur’s departure would leave FERC with a two to one Republican majority, and a minimum number of commissioners for a quorum. Continue Reading Commissioner LaFleur Announces She Will Leave FERC at the End of August

On June 20, 2019, FERC approved revisions to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) Tariff which permit MISO to share, without notice to its market participants, confidential information with federal cybersecurity authorities in response to detected cyber intrusions or weaknesses in electric utility infrastructure that have the potential to compromise reliability and call for immediate action.  FERC concluded that MISO’s proposal allows for greater information sharing with the appropriate federal agencies before a potential cybersecurity threat becomes an emergency, and appropriately maintains the confidentiality of the information at issue. Continue Reading FERC Permits MISO to Share Market Participant Information with Federal Agencies in Response to “Cyber Exigencies”

On June 20, 2019, FERC issued an Order on Voluntary Remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) directing PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to refund certain line loss over-collection amounts to certain virtual traders.  Upon re-examining its refund authority in light of recent court precedent, FERC determined that it has greater discretion to order refunds in cost allocation and rate design proceedings than it previously had determined. Continue Reading On Voluntary Remand, FERC Requires PJM to Refund Over-Collected Line Losses to Certain Financial Marketers

On June 11, 2019, FERC accepted Republic Transmission LLC’s (“Republic”) proposed transmission formula rate (“Formula Rate”) that will be incorporated into Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) tariff when Republic becomes a transmission owner in MISO.  Additionally, FERC granted Republic’s request for authorization to allow future affiliates or subsidiaries of Republic that undertake transmission projects in the MISO region to apply the Formula Rate, as well as the transmission rate incentives previously granted to Republic (“Incentives”). Continue Reading FERC Approves Formula Rate and Transmission Incentives to Transmission-Only Company That Won Order No. 1000 Solicitation

On June 7, 2019, Judge Dennis Montali of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of California San Francisco Division found that FERC’s finding that it had concurrent jurisdiction with the U.S. bankruptcy court over wholesale power agreements was “unenforceable in bankruptcy court and of no force on the parties before it.” Judge Montali further noted that if necessary, the U.S. bankruptcy court will “enjoin FERC from perpetuating its attempt to exercise power it wholly lacks.” At issue, on review by the bankruptcy court, was whether, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2201, the bankruptcy court has exclusive jurisdiction over Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s and Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation’s (collectively “Debtors”) right to reject a power purchase agreement (“PPA”) under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code, and whether FERC has concurrent jurisdiction to grant or deny PG&E’s rejection of any PPAs.

Continue Reading California Bankruptcy Judge Rules FERC Lacks Jurisdiction Over Abrogation of PG&E’s Wholesale Power Agreements

On June 12, 2019, FERC issued an order on paper hearing (“June 12 Order”) finding that Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) quick-start pricing practices are unjust and unreasonable and directing SPP to revise its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) to: implement quick-start pricing provisions in order to more accurately reflect the marginal cost of serving load; provide clear and transparent price signals that better reflect investment decisions; minimize production costs; and reduce uplift. Quick-start resources (also referred to as “fast-start resources”) are able to start within ten minutes or less to meet transient or unforeseen system needs. Previously, energy supply from quick-start resources had not necessarily been included in SPP’s unified pricing and dispatch run, but after the June 12 Order, quick-start resources in SPP may participate in setting market-clearing energy prices under certain circumstances. Continue Reading FERC Directs SPP to Modify its Quick-Start Pricing Practices

On June 11, 2019, FERC accepted, suspended for five months, and set for hearing Southern California Edison Company’s (“SoCal Edison”) revised transmission owner tariff and formula rate (“Formula Rate”), which includes an increased base 2019 transmission revenue requirement (“2019 TRR”).  SoCal Edison’s proposed rate increase is intended to account for the increased financial risks associated with wildfires in California.    Continue Reading FERC Sets for Hearing SoCal Edison’s Formula Rate Changes in Response to California Wildfires

On May 28, 2019, FERC issued an order approving Commonwealth Edison Company’s (“ComEd”) proposal to modify its formula transmission rate (“Formula Rate”) to recover its portion of the costs to construct, operate, and maintain the Superconductor Cable Development Project (the “Project”).  FERC also approved ComEd’s request for a transmission rate incentive to recover 100 percent of its prudently incurred costs if the Project is cancelled or abandoned for reasons outside ComEd’s control (“Abandonment Incentive”).  FERC found that the Project is properly treated as transmission plant, and thus eligible for recovery in ComEd’s Formula Rate and that the Commission’s approval of ComEd’s requested Abandonment Incentive is appropriate for the Project, which reflects an innovative use of an advanced technology that will improve system reliability. Continue Reading FERC Grants Commonwealth Edison’s Formula Rate Revisions and Request for an Abandoned Plant Transmission Rate Incentive

On June 4, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) upheld FERC’s authorization for Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (“Tennessee”) to build a new natural gas compressor station as part of its Broad Run Expansion Project (“the Project”).  Petitioners had argued, among other items, that FERC’s decision to approve the Project violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) by failing to address the reasonably foreseeable indirect environmental impacts resulting from: 1) increased gas production upstream of the Project, and 2) increased gas combustion downstream of the Project.  While the D.C. Circuit rejected the Petitioners’ arguments, it did so on jurisdictional grounds.  After concluding that FERC should have asked Tennessee for information about the upstream and downstream indirect environmental effects associated with the Project, the D.C. Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to conclude that FERC acted arbitrarily or capriciously because Petitioners did not argue that FERC violated NEPA by failing to seek out this information. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Questions FERC’s Actions, but Ultimately Upholds Approval of Broad Run Pipeline Project on Appeal