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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.” 
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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.
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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.
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On May 1, 2018, FERC staff held a technical conference on local transmission planning within the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) footprint.  The conference comes at a time when two California utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) and Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”), have transmission planning issues before the Commission, and also following FERC’s recent order addressing compliance with Order No. 890 in the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) region (see February 20, 2018 edition of the WER).
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On April 20, 2018, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) denied the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s (“Transco”) application (“Application”) for a Water Quality Certification (“WQC”) for the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (“Project”).  The NYSDEC denied the Application without prejudice, asserting that the Application provided incomplete information upon which to make a determination.  
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