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

On June 5, 2018, FERC granted the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) independent market monitor’s (“IMM”) request to compel the American Electric Power Services Corporation (“AEP”) to provide certain information related to cost-based offers to the IMM.  The IMM stated in its petition that it needed the information to determine whether AEP’s total costs of variable operations and maintenance (“VOM”) included in its capacity offer raise any market power concerns in the PJM Energy Market.  FERC determined that because the IMM had broad authority under PJM’s Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) to request such information, it would grant the IMM’s petition. Continue Reading FERC Approves PJM IMM’s Request for Access to AEP Cost Data for Market Power Analysis

On May 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Inspector General (“IG”) released an audit report of FERC’s natural gas pipeline certificate process, concluding that DOE “did not find any concerns that called into question the appropriateness of decisions FERC made on natural gas certification applications.”  The audit, which was conducted between October 2015 to May 2018, asked whether FERC’s certification process conformed to relevant laws, regulations, policies, and procedures, including timeliness and stakeholder input.  While DOE’s IG concluded that FERC generally performed the certification process in accordance with such laws and procedures, DOE’s IG also identified certain areas as needing improvement, including process transparency, public access to FERC records, tracking stakeholder comments, and data integrity. Continue Reading DOE Inspector Identifies Areas of Improvement in FERC Certificate Procedures

On May 17, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) in which it proposed to approve Reliability Standard TPL-007-2 (Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events) submitted by the North American Electric Corporation (“NERC”).  Geomagnetic disturbance (“GMD”) events result from charged particles ejected from the sun that interact with and cause changes in the earth’s magnetic fields, impacting flows on electric power systems and potentially causing voltage instability and equipment failure. Continue Reading FERC Proposes Revisions to Geomagnetic Disturbance Reliability Standard

On May 18, 2018, FERC denied rehearing of its April 28, 2016 order (the “April 28 Order”) approving Dominion Transmission, Inc.’s (“Dominion”) New Market Project.  Notably, FERC held that it is not required to analyze the upstream and downstream impacts of a proposed pipeline project unless those impacts are considered cumulative or indirect effects within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).  Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick dissented in part, instead finding that FERC is required to provide the public with information relating to the upstream and downstream impacts of a proposed project and stating that FERC should ask applicants to provide such information. Continue Reading FERC Limits Analysis of Upstream/Downstream Impacts of Proposed Gas Pipeline Projects

On May 17, 2018, FERC issued two orders denying requests for rehearing of two orders rejecting certain Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”) proposals that, as FERC found, provided Auction Revenue Rights (“ARRs”) and Long-term Congestion Rights (“LTCRs”) on an unjust and unreasonable basis (“May 2018 Orders”).  FERC’s previous orders, both issued on October 19, 2017 (“October 2017 Orders”), found that SPP was impermissibly providing ARRs and LTCRs for network service subject to “redispatch” (or, curtailment), on the same basis as network service not subject to redispatch (see October 25, 2017 edition of the WER).  In these latest orders, FERC rejected claims that, among other things, the October 2017 Orders had violated the contract rights of eligible network customers and that they constituted unlawful retroactive agency action. Continue Reading FERC Rejects Requests for Rehearing of SPP Congestion Revenue Rights Orders

On March 17, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to eliminate the Licensed Hydropower Development Recreation Report, designated as FERC Form No. 80 (“Form 80”), which collects information on the use and development of recreational facilities at licensed hydropower projects.  In addition, FERC proposed in the NOPR to revise related regulations in order “to modernize public notice practices, clarify recreational signage requirements, and provide flexibility to assist licensees’ compliance efforts.”  Continue Reading FERC Proposes to Eliminate Form 80 for Hydroelectric Projects

On May 4, 2018, FERC issued an order approving a proposal by the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) to eliminate transmission revenue credits for certain non-capacity network upgrades and to exempt non-firm and short-term firm point-to-point transmission service requests from incurring payment obligations for otherwise creditable system upgrades.  Recognizing the flexibility afforded to Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) in the assignment of network upgrade costs, FERC rejected protests that SPP was not sufficiently recognizing the benefits of non-capacity upgrades. Continue Reading FERC Approves SPP’s Elimination of Transmission Revenue Credits for Non-Capacity Upgrades and Limiting Revenue Collection to Long-Term Firm Service Customers

On May 4, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“Second Circuit”) dismissed a private suit filed by a group of investors (“Plaintiffs”) seeking damages for Total Gas & Power North America, Inc., Total S.A., and Total Gas & Power Limited (collectively, “Total”) for allegedly manipulating natural gas markets at four western trading hubs.  In doing so, the Second Circuit held that Plaintiffs – who did not trade at the four western trading hubs at which Total traded, but argued that Total’s trading impacted Plaintiffs’ trading at the Henry Hub – established constitutional standing but failed to plead sufficient facts to establish a plausible substantive cause of action. Continue Reading Second Circuit Dismisses Private Suit Against Total for Alleged Gas Market Manipulation