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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On February 28, 2019, following a July 2018 voluntary remand order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”), FERC reversed tariff waivers it previously granted to the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) regarding customer crediting payments for certain network upgrades.  FERC had granted a waiver of the one-year time bar for billing adjustments in SPP’s tariff so that SPP could retroactively reimburse transmission customers for qualifying network upgrade payments.  In its order on voluntary remand (“Remand Order”) however, FERC concluded that granting such a waiver would violate the filed rate doctrine.  As such, FERC directed the SPP to provide refunds and interest to affected transmission customers.
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On February 21, 2019, FERC issued an order accepting tariff revisions proposed by the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) regarding manual load forecast adjustments (also known as “load conformance”) in the CAISO and the western Energy Imbalance Market (“EIM”).  CAISO’s December 12, 2018 filing proposed tariff additions to describe: (1) load-conforming practice used in the real-time market; (2) a similar load-conforming practice used in the residual unit commitment (“RUC”) process of the day-ahead market; and (3) a “load conformance limiter” tool to automatically limit system operator-initiated load conformance in the real-time market to ensure that adjustments to load do not exceed actual market ramping capability, thereby triggering shortage pricing when extra supply is not actually needed.  FERC approved CAISO’s tariff revisions, effective February 27, 2019, over objections from parties that the load conformance limiter mechanism suppresses market prices and prevents shortage pricing.
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On February 21, 2019, FERC issued an order (“Order No. 845-A”) granting in part and denying in part various requests for rehearing and clarification of its determinations in Order No. 845.  In Order No. 845, FERC revised its interconnection rules for large generators, i.e., generators with capacities greater than 20 MW.  Although the requests for rehearing asked FERC to reconsider all but one of the Order No. 845 reforms, Order No. 845-A effectively leaves the major reforms intact, and focuses in large part on explaining FERC’s intentions as to how the new rules should work.  Compliance filings in response to both Order Nos. 845 and 845-A are due May 22, 2019.
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On February 11, 2019, a group of seventeen Democrat United States Senators and Senator Bernie Sanders wrote a letter (the “2019 Letter”) to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee urging FERC to adopt a rule requiring Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) to open their markets to participation of aggregated distributed energy resources (“DERs”).
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On December 14, 2018, Vineyard Wind, LLC (“Vineyard Wind”) filed a Petition with FERC to waive the pro-rata proration requirements of the ISO New England, Inc. (“ISO-NE”) Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) so that Vineyard Wind could participate in the upcoming ISO-NE Forward Capacity Auction 13 (“Auction 13”) as a Renewable Technology Resource (“RTR”).  Because time was of the essence, Vineyard Wind asked FERC to render an expedited decision no later than January 29, 2019.  FERC took no action on the Petition, however, and as of this writing, has also not taken any action on Vineyard Wind’s subsequent Emergency Motion for relief, rendering it all but certain that Vineyard Wind will be unable to participate in Auction 13.
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On January 29, 2019, FERC rejected the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s (“NEPOOL”) proposed revisions to its Second Restated NEPOOL Agreement (“NEPOOL Agreement”) that would have disqualified members of the press from being eligible to become NEPOOL members.  NEPOOL argued that the proposed revisions (“NEPOOL Press Amendments”) were necessary because allowing members of the press as NEPOOL members would undermine the effectiveness of the NEPOOL stakeholder process.  FERC rejected the revisions in part because, according to FERC, NEPOOL did not show that the revisions were just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory or preferential.
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On January 18, 2019, FERC accepted PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to both PJM’s Amended and Restated Operating Agreement and Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) designed to allow PJM to stop using certain resources to calculate the frequency regulation (“regulation”) market clearing price and reduce spikes in the clearing price in PJM’s regulation market.  FERC found the proposal to be a narrowly-tailored solution to the price spike problem, while noting that broader issues raised in protests regarding PJM’s proposal were beyond the scope of the proceeding and are currently pending before the Commission in other dockets regarding PJM’s regulation market design.
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