Photo of Elizabeth McCormick

On December 3, 2019, FERC denied a challenge filed by Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (“SMECO”) challenging Potomac Electric Power Company’s (“Pepco”) balance of prepaid pension assets (“Prepaid Pension Assets”) included in Pepco’s annual transmission rate update. FERC found that SMECO did not raise any serious doubt about the prudence of the Prepaid Pension Assets and that Pepco’s inclusion of a portion of the Prepaid Pension Assets amount in its rate base was reasonable.
Continue Reading

On December 3, 2019, FERC issued an order in response to South Carolina Public Service Authority’s (“SCPSA”) October 8, 2019 request for a determination under section 36(c) of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) that certain project investments made over the term of the existing license for the Santee Cooper Project meet the criteria set forth in FPA section 36(b)(2), and therefore should be considered when the Commission establishes the length of the next license term for the Project.  The Commission’s December 3 order held that most of the prior investments identified in SCPSA’s request—approximately $90 million—met the statutory criteria and will be considered when the Commission sets the new license term in its future order on relicensing. 
Continue Reading

On November 21, 2019, FERC issued Opinion No. 569, adopting a revised methodology to determine whether an established rate of return on equity (“ROE”) is just and reasonable under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act. Additionally, FERC applied this new methodology to two complaint proceedings involving the base ROEs of Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) transmission owners (“TOs”). FERC found first that the MISO TOs’ ROE of 12.38 percent in the first complaint (“First Complaint”) was unjust and unreasonable, and ordered refunds based on this finding. FERC then found that the MISO TOs’ ROE of 9.88 percent in the second complaint (“Second Complaint”) fell within the range of presumptively just and reasonable ROEs, and subsequently dismissed the complaint. Commissioner Glick dissented in part, stating that refunds should have been ordered with regard to the Second Complaint.
Continue Reading

On November 8, 2019, Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Chairman of the House  Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy (collectively the “Chairmen”), wrote a letter to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee expressing their concerns regarding FERC’s proposed changes to sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”).
Continue Reading

On October 17, 2019, FERC denied requests for rehearing filed by the California State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) and conservation organizations in response to the Commission’s unanimous April 18, 2019 order finding that SWRCB had waived its authority under section 401(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. § 1641, to issue a water quality certification for the relicensing of Placer County Water Agency’s Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project (“Middle Fork Project”) (see April 24, 2019 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading

On October 17, 2019, FERC amended its Policy Statement on Consultation with Indian Tribes in Commission Proceedings (“Policy Statement”) by adding a specific reference to treaty rights, noting that the Commission addresses input from tribes in its National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) documents, and adding consultation with Alaska Native Corporations to the Policy Statement.
Continue Reading

On August 29, 2019, FERC issued a final rule revising 18 C.F.R. § 385.2001(a) and requiring that all physical filings and submissions to be delivered to FERC, other than those sent via the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) are to be sent to FERC’s off-site security screening facility in Rockville, Maryland (see September 17 edition of the WER).  The rule was scheduled to go into effect on November 4, 2019, 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading

On October 17, 2019, pursuant to the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, FERC issued a guidance document for applicants seeking preliminary permits or licenses for closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites.  It also issued a list of 230 existing nonpowered federal dams that FERC—along with the Secretaries of the Interior, Army, and Agriculture (collectively, the Secretaries)—determined have the greatest potential for nonfederal hydropower development.
Continue Reading

On November 5, 2019, the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources (“Committee”) held a hearing to consider the nomination of James Danly as a FERC Commissioner. Mr. Danly, currently FERC’s general counsel, was nominated to fill the vacancy on the Commission left by the passing of FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre in January of this year.

Continue Reading

On October 28, 2019, the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island (collectively “State AGs”) wrote to FERC to discuss opportunities for the State AGs and FERC to work cooperatively to promote state-level clean energy policies that benefit consumers and enhance grid reliability. The State AGs expressed an “urgent need” for further action to address climate change’s “massive” environmental, health, and economic harms in their states, and noted that the Commission’s actions related to market design, natural gas siting, and grid reliability significantly impact each state’s ability to achieve their clean energy goals.

Continue Reading