On July 18, 2018, FERC issued Order No. 849, finalizing its procedures and regulations regarding the effect of reduced corporate income taxes on certain natural gas pipelines and their rates at FERC.  Notably, Order No. 849 requires interstate natural gas pipelines to submit “FERC Form No. 501-G,” an abbreviated cost and revenue study designed to illustrate the effect of reduced corporate tax rates, which FERC might then use to determine whether the pipeline’s rates may be unjust and unreasonable under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).  Continue Reading FERC Finalizes Procedures for Evaluating Income Tax Cuts on Gas Pipeline Rates

On July 9, 2018, FERC denied Cloverland Electric Cooperative’s (“Cloverland”) application to terminate its mandatory obligation under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) to purchase electric energy and capacity from qualifying cogeneration or small power production facilities (“QF”) with a net capacity in excess of 20 megawatts.  In denying the request, FERC emphasized that direct membership in regional transmission organizations or independent system operators is necessary to meet the exemption Cloverland requested under PURPA. Continue Reading FERC Denies Application to Terminate PURPA Mandatory Purchase Obligation

On June 29, 2018, FERC approved the California Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“CAISO”) revisions to its congestion revenue rights (“CRR”) auction intended to address the shortfall between CRR auction revenues and amounts owed by CAISO to holders of auctioned CRRs.  Specifically, CAISO proposed to (1) require CAISO transmission owners to submit all known transmission maintenance outages for the next year by July 1, rather than October 15; and (2) limit the allowable source and sink pairs eligible for the CRR auction to pairs associated with supply delivery and to exclude non-delivery CRR pairs. Continue Reading FERC Approves Changes to CAISO’s Congestion Revenue Rights Auction

On Thursday, June 28, 2018, the Senate approved ten individual hydropower bills by unanimous consent.  Seven of the ten were previously passed by the House and will now go to the President for his signature.  The remaining three bills have not yet been passed by the House, but in all three cases, the House has passed either a companion bill or bills with language similar to the Senate bills. Continue Reading Senate Approves Hydropower Bills by Unanimous Consent

Three recent FERC staff decisions (“Decisions”) confirm that, for purposes of establishing the mandatory licensing requirements under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), groundwater is not a “non-navigable Commerce Clause stream.”  Thus, a hydropower project—and particularly a closed-loop pumped storage project—that uses only groundwater as its water source will not require FERC licensing if the project does not trigger other jurisdictional tests under the FPA. Continue Reading FERC Confirms No Licensing Requirement for Certain Groundwater-Only Pumped Storage Projects

On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States (“Supreme Court”) held that the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) are “Officers of the United States” whose appointment must meet the requirements of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause.  Accordingly, pursuant to the Appointments Clause, the SEC ALJs must be appointed by the SEC itself, as the “Head of the Department.”  It is unclear whether this impacts any of the current ALJs at FERC.  Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules SEC ALJs Were Not Constitutionally Appointed

On June 21, 2018, FERC approved tariff provisions proposed by the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”).  Specifically, the Commission’s order approved, subject to compliance filing, CAISO’s proposals to revise the definition of which resources qualify as use-limited and to allow those resources to include opportunity cost adders in their bids, while rejecting CAISO’s proposed revisions relating to the Master File, an electronic database of generator-provided data on resources participating in CAISO markets, as well as its proposal to remove ramp rates as components of daily bids. Continue Reading FERC Approves CAISO’s Creation of Opportunity Cost Adder for Use-Limited Resources

On June 8, 2018, FERC approved a Stipulation and Consent Agreement (“Settlement”) between the Office of Enforcement (“OE”) and Duke Energy Corporation and its public utility operating subsidiaries (“Duke”).  OE claimed that Duke violated FERC regulations when it failed to accurately describe certain information in the transmission studies submitted in support of its merger with Progress Energy, Inc. (collectively, “Applicants”).  FERC determined that the Settlement was fair and reasonable and resolved all outstanding claims and proceedings between OE and Duke.  Continue Reading FERC Approves Civil Penalty Against Duke for Submitting Inaccurate Data in Section 203 Proceeding

On June 8, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) upheld FERC’s re-examination of an order regarding the effective rate for network upgrades in an Interconnection Agreement (“IA”) with the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”).  A power developer, West Deptford Energy, LLC (“West Deptford”), requested interconnection with PJM.  After the negotiations for the IA commenced, PJM’s effective rate changed, triggering a dispute between the parties as to the appropriate effective rate for the IA: the rate in effect at the start of negotiations or the rate in effect at the time the IA was completed. The D.C. Circuit agreed with FERC’s finding that the governing rate is the rate in effect at the time the IA was completed. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Upholds FERC’s Decision Regarding the Timing of the Application of an Effective Rate