On February 12, 2018, the White House issued its proposed framework for an infrastructure bill to Congress.  Notably, the White House’s infrastructure plan proposes to (1) establish a firm deadline of 21 months for lead agencies to complete their National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) reviews and an additional 3 months thereafter to approve or deny a permit (i.e., a decision on an interstate natural gas pipeline project or hydropower license application must be made within 2 years of the application); and (2) amend the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to set a deadline for a state agency to determine whether a CWA section 401 certificate application is complete. Continue Reading White House Releases Outline for Legislative Infrastructure Plan

On February 2, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) remanded FERC’s decision denying complaints that the ISO New England, Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) rules locking in prices for new entrants to ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (“FCM”) result in price suppression and discriminatory rates for existing suppliers.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit held that FERC did not adequately explain why its prior decision to reject a similar proposal did not apply to ISO-NE’s rules. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Remands FERC Decision Upholding ISO-NE FCM Rules Locking in Prices for New Entrants

On February 5, 2018, FERC conditionally accepted a proposal by the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to amend its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”) and Amended and Restated Operating Agreement (“Operating Agreement”) to accommodate additional pseudo-tied and dynamically scheduled resources into the PJM region.  FERC accepted the proposal and provided an effective date of November 9, 2017, provided that PJM submits a compliance filing addressing FERC’s limited concerns in the order. Continue Reading FERC Conditionally Accepts PJM Tariff Amendments Related to Pseudo-Ties and Dynamic Schedules

On January 25, 2018, as amended on January 31, 2018, FERC Office of Enforcement Staff (“OE Staff”) answered BP America Inc., BP Corporation North America Inc., BP America Production Company, and BP Energy Company’s (collectively, “BP”) arguments that FERC must dismiss its order assessing civil penalties and disgorgement against BP for violating FERC’s anti-market manipulation rule due to the five-year statute of limitations for civil penalties.  Among other things, OE Staff argued that (1) enforcement actions under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) are distinct from the enforcement process under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), and thus similar federal district court precedent in the FPA context is inapplicable to BP; and (2) FERC’s issuance of disgorgement is more remedial than punitive and thus not subject to the statute of limitations. Continue Reading FERC Enforcement Staff Argues Claims Against BP Are Not Time-Barred due to Differences Between NGA and FPA

On January 24, 2018, FERC staff directed Rover Pipeline LLC (“Rover”) to stop horizontal directional drilling (“HDD”) activity—which involves using a drill to bore horizontally underground and drilling mud to remove drill cuttings and maintain the bore for a newly constructed pipeline to “cross” beneath rivers and other areas—at the Tuscarawas River site due to inadvertent losses of drilling mud.  Although FERC staff found that Rover had complied with its HDD contingency plans and that drilling mud had not impacted sensitive resources, FERC staff requested Rover to provide information to assess alternate methods of crossing the Tuscarawas River. Continue Reading FERC Staff Directs Rover Pipeline to Cease HDD Activity at the Tuscarawas River Site

On January 19, 2018, FERC approved PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC’s (“PennEast”) proposal to construct its 116-mile pipeline project from Pennsylvania to New Jersey (“Project”).  FERC approved the Project despite protesters challenging the Project’s need given that affiliated shippers subscribed to most of the Project’s capacity, as well as FERC’s limited environmental impact analysis after PennEast could not complete certain surveys along the Project’s route due to landowners denying PennEast access to their property.  Commissioners Cheryl A. LaFleur and Neil Chatterjee issued separate concurrences, while Commissioner Richard Glick issued a separate dissent. Continue Reading FERC Approves PennEast Pipeline Project Despite Need and Environmental Impact Protests

On January 18, 2018, FERC approved California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) changes to its resource adequacy program to, among other things, (1) allow capacity located in a local capacity area, but procured as system capacity, to provide system substitution capacity during forced outages and (2) cap a load serving entity’s (“LSE”) monthly local capacity requirement at its monthly system capacity requirement. Continue Reading FERC Approves Changes to CAISO’s Resource Adequacy Program

On January 12, 2018, FERC denied authorization to transfer a 1,159 MW coal-fired generation facility (“Pleasants Facility”) owned by Allegheny Energy Supply Company, LLC (“AE Supply”) to its affiliate, Monongahela Power Company (“Mon Power”).  After considering the applicable tests for affiliate transfers under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), FERC determined that the parties’ proposed transaction was not in the public interest because it presented potential concerns of captive ratepayers cross-subsidizing non-regulated entities and because certain solicitation criteria were not met.  The denial is without prejudice, so Mon Power and AE Supply may resubmit an application that corrects the shortcomings identified by FERC. Continue Reading FERC Rejects Allegheny’s Proposal to Transfer Power Plant to Regulated Affiliate

On January 9, 2018, several state Attorneys General, state agencies, and state consumer advocates (“State Advocates”) sent a joint letter to the FERC Commissioners requesting that FERC open an investigation into the continued justness and reasonableness of FERC-jurisdictional electric and natural gas utilities’ (“Public Utilities”) rates considering the recent reduction in the federal corporate income tax rate.  The State Advocates further urged FERC to promptly adjust the revenue requirements of such Public Utilities to prevent utility customers across the nation from overpaying for service.  Continue Reading Multiple States Ask FERC to Adjust Utility and Pipeline Rates due to Tax Reform Bill

On December 29, 2017, FERC conditionally accepted revisions to the Joint Operating Agreement (“JOA”) between PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) and Midcontinent Independent Operator System, Inc. (“MISO”) that are intended to improve the coordination of resources that are pseudo-tied between the two regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”).   A “pseudo-tie” is a mechanism used by one Balancing Authority (“BA”) to control generating resources that are physically located in another BA.  The proposed revisions were given an effective date of October 1, 2017, subject to a ministerial compliance filing. Continue Reading FERC Conditionally Accepts Revisions to the PJM-MISO JOA to Enhance Coordination of Pseudo-Tied Resources