On May 15, 2019, with the support of various Democratic co-sponsors, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reintroduced the “Public Engagement at FERC Act” (S. 1477) to amend the Federal Power Act to establish an Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy (“Office of PPCA” or “Office”).  The bill was first introduced by Senator Shaheen in 2017 and was created to assist residential and small commercial energy consumers in participating in FERC proceedings.
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On May 16, 2019, FERC denied several rehearing requests and partially granted clarification of its Order No. 841 regarding the participation of electric storage resources (“ESRs”) in regional markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) (“Order No. 841-A”).  Most notably, FERC upheld its decision not to adopt a state opt-out of ESR participation in wholesale markets.  Commissioner McNamee issued a partial dissent discussing the need to recognize states’ interests in the impacts of Order Nos. 841 and 841-A.
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As part of its overall proposal to implement carbon pricing to incorporate the social cost of carbon emissions in the wholesale power market, New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) staff made a presentation at the Market Issues Working Group (“MIWG”) meeting on April 30, 2019 (“MIWG Presentation”).  The MIWG Presentation set forth NYISO’s proposed methodology to calculate the estimated impact of carbon pricing on locational-based marginal prices (“LBMP”).  Specifically, the MIWG Presentation provides additional details about how NYISO proposes to calculate the location-based marginal price-carbon (“LBMPc”), which would consider the impact of carbon pricing on LBMPs for purposes of subtracting from an energy supplier’s ultimate bid during the market settlement phase.

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On April 18, 2019, FERC granted Sunrun, Inc.’s petition for declaratory order and request for waiver of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”) Qualified Facility (“QF”) certification requirements for certain of its residential solar photovoltaic (“PV”) systems.  Specifically, FERC granted Sunrun limited waivers of: (1) the QF certification requirement for Sunrun-financed residential rooftop solar PV systems under 20 kW where such systems, though separately interconnected, may aggregate to over 1 MW within a one-mile radius; and (2) the requirement in Item 8a of the QF self-certification Form No. 556 to identify related PV systems of 20 kW or less located within a one mile radius.  FERC’s order noted its intention to ease administrative burdens on both Sunrun and itself, and affirmed that certain certification filing exemptions available to QFs under 1 MW can persist as Sunrun expands and its financed PV systems aggregate to over 1 MW within a one-mile radius.
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On April 15, 2019, FERC accepted PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) changes to its Variable Resource Requirement (“VRR”) demand curve as well as key cost inputs to the curve, in connection with PJM’s 2019 Base Residual Auction for the 2022/2023 Delivery Year.  While FERC concluded that PJM’s proposal would produce accurate market signals, encourage appropriate capacity investment, and achieve an adequate level of reliability, the decision sparked a dissent from Commissioner Glick, who argued that PJM failed to show that its proposed VRR curve would produce just and reasonable rates.  Commissioner Glick added that the proposal did not go far enough to correct either oversupply of generation in the capacity market or distorted price signals for Energy and Ancillary (“EAS”) services.
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On April 5, 2019, FERC accepted PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) regarding Incremental Capacity Transfer Rights (“ICTRs”).  ICTRs are created whenever customer-funded upgrades increase transmission import capability into a Locational Deliverability Area (“LDA”) in PJM’s system.  Specifically, PJM proposed: (1) to revise the procedures to determine ICTRs; (2) to limit customers to specifying no more than three LDAs in which to determine ICTRs; and (3) to allow customers to request PJM to determine ICTRs, rather than making such determination automatic.  In accepting PJM’s proposal, FERC determined that the requested revisions balanced customer needs with the efficient processing of PJM’s interconnection queue.

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On March 29, 2019, FERC released its 2018 staff report on Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) reliability audits (“2018 CIP Report”).  The 2018 CIP Report summarizes new and previously-identified “lessons learned” from CIP audits conducted for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.  The audits evaluated whether certain users, owners, and operators of the Bulk Electric System (“BES”) – generally referred to as “registered entities” – had been complying with the FERC-approved CIP Reliability Standards during the relevant fiscal years.  FERC staff found that the audited registered entities met most of the mandatory requirements of the CIP Reliability Standards, but that there were some potential compliance infractions.  In addition, the staff summarized certain other existing practices that could improve BES security, but are not necessarily required by the CIP Reliability Standards and so therefore were only noted as recommendations in the 2018 CIP Report.
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On March 21, 2019, the Commission issued a proposed order directing two wind energy generators, Cedar Creek Wind Energy, LLC (“Cedar Creek”) and Cedar Creek II, LLC (“Cedar Creek II”) (collectively the “Cedar Creek Entities”) to provide interconnection and transmission service to a proposed wind project, Mountain Breeze Wind, LLC (“Mountain Breeze”) across jointly-owned interconnection customer facilities (“ICIF”) to the Public Service Company of Colorado (“PSCo”) transmission system.  Although Cedar Creek II sought to dismiss the matter as an impermissible attempt by Mountain Breeze to acquire an ownership interest in the ICIF outside of a Federal Power Act (“FPA”) Section 203 or Section 205 proceeding, FERC rejected this characterization and instead found narrowly that Mountain Breeze had properly filed an application for Commission-ordered service under FPA Sections 210 and 211.  FERC directed the parties to attempt to reach an agreement on the terms and conditions for interconnection and transmission service, or a separate order prescribing such terms and conditions would be issued.
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On March 21, 2019, the same day FERC issued an inquiry into Return on Equity (“ROE”) policies (see here), FERC also published another Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comments on the scope and implementation of its electric transmission incentives policy and regulations.  The NOI covers a broad range of topics from using incentives to encourage new technology integration to unlocking location constrained resources and addressing resiliency concerns.  Initial comments are due 90 days after the NOI is published in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 30 days thereafter.

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On March 6, 2019, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) declined to reconsider an earlier order refusing to enforce a newly-enacted mandatory biomass power purchase obligation, and associated subsidy scheme. Although the New Hampshire PUC ruled narrowly in both decisions, the law subsidizing state biomass generators at above-market rates is the latest in a series of recent state actions pushing the jurisdictional line between FERC and state authority (see, e.g., April 27, 2016 edition of the WER; September 25, 2018 edition of the WER; October 3, 2018 edition of the WER).  As of this writing, challenges to the law remain pending at FERC.
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