On December 21, 2017, FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre unexpectedly announced at his first Commission meeting that FERC will conduct a review of its 1999 Policy Statement on Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Facilities (“1999 Policy Statement”).  In doing so, Chairman McIntyre recognized that “[m]uch has changed in the energy world since 1999, and it is incumbent upon [the Commission] to take another look at the way in which we assess the value and viability of our pipeline applications.”  According to multiple reports, Chairman McIntyre clarified that he does not believe that the review will affect current pending pipeline applications.  Furthermore, Chairman McIntyre indicated that the review of the 1999 Policy Statement, which governs how FERC evaluates proposals for certificating new gas pipeline construction, will take place sometime in 2018.  Continue Reading FERC Unexpectedly Announces Review of its Certification Policy for Natural Gas Pipelines

On December 7, 2017, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued a report summarizing its review of FERC’s oversight of the nation’s four regional capacity markets.  The GAO found generally that “FERC has not fully assessed the overall performance of capacity markets,” and the agency recommends that FERC improve data quality, use consistent metrics reported through standardized definitions, and establish goals, performance metrics, and risk tolerance levels for capacity markets.  The report comes at a time when FERC is considering significant capacity market-related issues, including the Department of Energy-initiated “Grid Reliability and Resilience Pricing” docket (see October 2, 2017 Edition of the WER), and reliability-focused pricing reforms from the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (see November 21, 2017 edition of the WER). Continue Reading Government Accountability Office Urges FERC to Improve Data Collection and Assessment of Capacity Market Performance

On November 16, 2017, twelve New England electricity consumers (“Plaintiffs”) filed a class action lawsuit in in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against two large New England energy companies, Eversource Energy (“Eversource”) and Avangrid, Inc. (“Avangrid”), arguing that they raised power prices by artificially constraining capacity on the Algonquin Gas Transmission Pipeline (“Algonquin”).  Specifically, the Plaintiffs argue that for the past three years, Eversource and Avangrid have increased power prices by 20% by reserving more capacity than was needed on Algonquin with the intent to cancel the reservation when it was too late for the pipeline capacity to be resold to other market participants.  Plaintiffs allege that this behavior was a misuse of Eversource’s and Avangrid’s market power, in violation of state and federal unjust enrichment, consumer protection and antitrust laws. Continue Reading Lawsuit Accuses New England Natural Gas Companies of Withholding Pipeline Capacity

On December 6, 2017, FERC denied requests for rehearing of its prior order (“February Order”) authorizing Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (“Transco”) to build and operate its Atlantic Sunrise Project.  A variety of protestors raised several claims in their requests for rehearing, including that the assessment of the public purpose and need of the project was incorrect and that the analysis regarding the project’s effect on climate change was inadequate.  FERC rejected all challenges to its February Order for several reasons, concluding that the claims were meritless. Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing of Atlantic Sunrise Project Pipeline Approval

On December 1, 2017, FERC concluded that it has exclusive jurisdiction over the participation of energy efficiency resources (“EERs”) in wholesale electricity markets.  FERC also found that: (1) state or local regulators may not bar or restrict EER participation in wholesale electricity markets, unless given express authority to do so by FERC; and (2) FERC’s previous Order No. 719 on demand response may not be interpreted to permit a state or local regulator to exercise an opt-out and bar or restrict the participation of EERs. Continue Reading FERC Claims Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Energy Efficiency Resources in Wholesale Electricity Markets

On November 30, 2017, FERC upheld its denial of Rover Pipeline, LLC’s (“Rover”) request for a blanket construction certificate—which would have allowed Rover to perform certain routine construction activities and operations—in connection with the Rover Pipeline Project.  FERC determined that it was not confident Rover would comply with the blanket construction certificate’s environmental requirements due to Rover’s demolition of a historic property along the project’s route during the certificate proceeding.  FERC also concluded that Rover intentionally circumvented the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”) by purchasing and demolishing the property. Continue Reading FERC Affirms Denial of Blanket Construction Certificate for Rover Pipeline

On November 16, 2017, FERC denied requests for rehearing by various parties (“Petitioners”) and a request for rehearing and stay by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) of FERC’s approval of Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C.’s (“Millennium”) Valley Lateral Project.  In doing so, FERC rejected Petitioners’ claims that (1) FERC’s National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) analysis was inadequate, (2) Millennium had not demonstrated need for the project, and (3) FERC lacked jurisdiction to approve the project.  FERC also dismissed NYSDEC’s argument that FERC failed to consider the downstream greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions resulting from the Valley Lateral Project, holding that NYSDEC’s request was untimely. Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing and Stay of Millennium’s Valley Lateral Project

On November 3, 2017, FERC largely denied rehearing requests from a group of generation developers (“Generation Developers”) regarding the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) revisions to its Generator Interconnection Procedures (“GIP”) and its pro forma Generator Interconnection Agreement (“GIA”).  With the exception of one issue, FERC otherwise rejected the Generation Developers requests that FERC reconsider prior MISO revisions regarding the efficiency and timeliness of MISO’s generator interconnection queue process contained in Attachment X of its Open Access Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (“Tariff”). Continue Reading FERC Largely Denies Rehearing Request to Change Existing MISO Generator Interconnection Procedures

On November 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to join FERC.  McIntyre will serve as Chairman once he is officially sworn in.  Together, McIntyre and Glick will fill the five-member Commission board for the first time since October 2015. Continue Reading Senate Confirms McIntyre, Glick to FERC, Filling Remaining Commissioner Seats

On October 25, 2017, FERC issued an order explaining the market consequences when a resource loses certain participation rights in the New York Intendent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) Installed Capacity (“ICAP”) market.  The order on clarification, which was requested by NRG Power Marketing LLC and GenON Energy Management, LLC (collectively, “NRG”), followed a January 27, 2017 decision in which FERC largely accepted NYISO’s proposed revisions to its Market Administration and Control Area Services Tariff (“Tariff”) to correct a pricing inefficiency in its ICAP market design.  As FERC clarified in this most recent order, when a capacity resource loses its ability to participate in NYISO’s ICAP market, certain benefits or discounts tied to that participation ability—here, a so-called “Locality Exchange Factor”—fall away. Continue Reading FERC Clarifies Impacts from Lost Capacity Market Rights in NYISO