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.


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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.
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Summary of NOPR

On September 19, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to revise its regulations implementing Sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) in light of changes in the energy industry since 1978.[1]
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On July 18, 2019, FERC affirmed on remand its prior approval of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (“PG&E”) request for a return-on-equity (“ROE”) incentive adder to its transmission rates (“RTO-Participation Incentive”) for its ongoing membership in the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”).  In its decision, which followed from a 2018 remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“Ninth Circuit”), FERC reasserted its jurisdiction over such transmission incentive questions and determined that, absent a relevant mandate under California law requiring PG&E’s participation in CAISO, the RTO-Participation Incentive was warranted because it induces PG&E to continue its CAISO membership.
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On July 18, 2019, FERC issued Order No. 861, modifying its regulations regarding the horizontal market power analysis required to obtain authorization to sell energy, capacity, or ancillary services at market-based rates.  FERC adopted its proposal (see December 20, 2018 edition of the WER) to relieve electric power sellers of the obligation to submit indicative screens to obtain or retain market-based rate authority in any Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”)/Independent System Operator (“ISO”) market with FERC-approved RTO/ISO monitoring and mitigation.  Market-based rate sellers (“MBR Sellers”) must continue to submit indicative screens for authorization to make capacity sales in any RTO/ISO that lacks an RTO/ISO-administered capacity market subject to FERC-approved monitoring and mitigation—currently, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) and Southwest Power Pool (“SPP”).  FERC stated its intent for the rule is to ease regulatory burdens on MBR Sellers while simultaneously preserving its authority to prevent the exercise of market power.
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On June 27, 2019, FERC rejected PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to its Open Access Transmission Tariff and Reliability Assurance Agreement Among Load Serving Entities in the PJM Region that would have required demand resources to be available year-round.  PJM argued that the proposed revisions better aligned its Price Responsive Demand (“PRD”) program with the year-around availability obligation of other supply-side “Capacity Performance Resources” participating in PJM’s capacity market. On review, however, FERC agreed with concerns raised by PJM’s Independent Market Monitor (“IMM”) and other parties that, among other things, the price-responsive demand program must be more consistent with the annual peak-based billing framework for capacity procurement by Load Serving Entities (“LSEs”).  FERC also agreed that, as a result, PJM’s proposal failed to accurately reflect PRD participants’ load reduction capabilities.
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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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