On December 30, 2019, FERC accepted, subject to further compliance, revisions to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Price Responsive Demand (“PRD”) program to align the program’s rules and requirements with those applicable to supply-side “Capacity Performance Resources” participating in PJM’s capacity market. PJM previously submitted PRD revisions in February 2019, but FERC rejected PJM’s filing in a June 2019 order, on the basis that PJM’s proposed method for calculating the Nominal PRD Value—i.e., the MW amount to be curtailed—was inconsistent with the manner in which PJM calculated a Load Serving Entity’s (“LSE”) capacity supply obligation (see July 18, 2019 edition of the WER). FERC’s December 30 order accepted PJM’s proposal to maintain the existing Nominal PRD Value calculation based on a LSE’s capacity obligation, which is itself derived from the LSE’s annual coincident peak demand. In response to a protest from PJM’s Independent Market Monitor (“IMM”), FERC also required PJM to clarify on compliance that an LSE is not eligible to receive certain bonus payments for load reductions during system emergencies when the prevailing LMP has not reached the applicable trigger price.
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On December 12, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”) issued an opinion affirming in part and reversing in part a bankruptcy court’s assertion of exclusive and unlimited jurisdiction over certain of FirstEnergy Solutions’ (“FES”) power purchase agreements that FERC had previously approved under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and that FES sought to reject in bankruptcy. While the Sixth Circuit agreed that the bankruptcy court has jurisdiction to decide whether FES may reject the contracts, it rejected the bankruptcy court’s decision to enjoin FERC from taking any action relating to the contracts, and permitting FES to reject the contracts. Characterizing the bankruptcy court’s decision as “a rash and unnecessary overreach,” the Sixth Circuit held that the injunction issued against FERC was overly broad, and the bankruptcy court’s standard for deciding whether to permit FES to reject the contracts too limited. The Sixth Circuit also rejected the bankruptcy court’s sole application of the business judgment rule to decide whether to permit FES to reject the contracts at issue. Rather, the Sixth Circuit held that the court should have also taken public interest considerations into account, and should have invited FERC to participate and provide an opinion in accordance with the FPA. Judge Richard Allen Griffin penned separate opinion dissenting in part, in which he concluded that the bankruptcy court exceeded its jurisdiction and infringed on FERC’s exclusive jurisdiction to decide whether to modify or abrogate a filed rate.
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On November 18, 2019, Anbaric Development Partners, LLC (“Anbaric”) filed a complaint against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) alleging that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures deny meaningful open access interconnection service to merchant transmission projects designed to connect remote generation resources, including offshore wind generation, to the PJM transmission system (“Transmission Platform Projects”). Anbaric requested that FERC: find that the PJM Tariff is unjust, unreasonable and unduly discriminatory or preferential because it does not provide Transmission Platform Projects the opportunity to obtain material interconnection rights; direct that Transmission Platform Projects be given the opportunity to obtain material interconnection rights; and order PJM to modify its Tariff to include a new category of Transmission Platform Projects to connect remote renewable generation facilities to the PJM Transmission System. Anbaric also requested that any order from FERC apply to all of Anbaric’s projects with positions in PJM’s interconnection queue as of the date of its complaint.
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On November 22, 2019, FERC issued three separate orders accepting, subject to further compliance, California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”), the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”), and ISO New England, Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) proposals to comply with FERC Order Nos. 841 and 841-A—addressing energy storage resources’ (“ESR”) participation in Regional Transmission Organization/Independent System Operator (“RTO/ISO”)-operated markets (see February 20, 2018 edition of the WER; April 10, 2019 edition of the WER; and May 22, 2019 edition of the WER for more background and context on Order No. 841). The November 22 orders, which follow FERC’s previous acceptance of PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s and Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s storage participation proposals (see October 24, 2019 edition of the WER), found that the RTOs/ISOs generally complied with the requirements of Order No. 841. FERC ordered certain modifications to each RTO’s/ISO’s proposals, addressing metering and accounting practices, ESR bidding parameters, minimum size requirements, and transmission service charges, in addition to other issues. Commissioner McNamee issued separate opinions concurring with all three orders.
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On November 14, 2019, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“Committee”) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dan Brouillette as Secretary of Energy. Mr. Brouillette is currently DOE’s Deputy Secretary, and has been nominated by President Trump to replace outgoing Secretary Rick Perry.
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On November 1, 2019 FERC approved a Stipulation and Consent Agreement between its Office of Enforcement (“OE”), the regional reliability entity Texas Reliability Entity, Inc. (“Texas RE”), the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), and Calpine Corporation (“Calpine”), related to Calpine’s alleged violations of NERC reliability standards governing maintenance and testing of batteries and other protection systems, as well as provisions of the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) Tariff requiring entities to report planned and unplanned generator outages. As part of the settlement, Calpine neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations, but agreed to pay civil penalties of $375,000 to Texas RE and $25,000 to the United States Treasury, and to undergo compliance monitoring.
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On October 25, 2019, FERC found that Vitol, Inc. (“Vitol”) and one of its traders, Federico Corteggiano, violated the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and FERC’s rules prohibiting energy market manipulation by importing power at a loss from October 28 through November 1, 2013, at the border of the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) wholesale electric market in order to relieve transmission congestion and to benefit Vitol’s congestion revenue rights (“CRRs”) sourced at that location. The order follows an investigation into Vitol’s and Corteggiano’s trading practices that was initiated in 2014 by FERC’s Office of Enforcement. In July 2019, following the completion of Enforcement Staff’s investigation, FERC issued an order directing Vitol and Corteggiano to show cause why they should not be assessed Enforcement Staff’s recommended civil penalties of $6 million and $800,000 respectively, and directing Vitol to show cause why it should not disgorge $1,227,143 in unjust profits. FERC’s October 25 order affirmed Enforcement Staff’s conclusion that Vitol and Corteggiano engaged in market manipulation, and ordered Vitol to disgorge $1,227,143 in unjust profits. However, FERC significantly reduced Vitol’s civil penalty to $1.5 million and increased Corteggiano’s civil penalty to $1 million after concluding that Corteggiano was primarily responsible for the manipulative conduct.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC directed PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) and other interested parties to provide information with respect to how uplift costs—i.e., the costs associated with make-whole payments provided by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) to market participants whose commitment and dispatch resulted in a shortfall between the generator’s offer and the revenue earned through market-clearing prices—should be allocated to virtual transactions in PJM, and in particular to Up-to-Congestion (“UTC”) transactions. FERC’s order seeks to update the record in an ongoing Federal Power Act Section 206 investigation into PJM’s UTC and uplift practices that FERC initiated in 2014.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC issued two separate orders accepting in part PJM Interconnection L.L.C.’s (“PJM”), and Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposals to comply with FERC’s orders addressing energy storage resources’ (“ESR”) participation in Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”)-operated markets, subject to further compliance (see February 20, 2018 edition of the WER; April 10, 2019 edition of the WER; and May 22, 2019 edition of the WER for more background and context on Order No. 841). SPP’s and PJM’s ESR participation proposals are the first to be accepted by FERC, which found that the RTOs generally complied with Order No. 841 by enabling ESRs to provide all services they are technically capable of providing, to be compensated for those services in the same manner as other resources, and by recognizing ESRs’ unique physical and operational characteristics. However, FERC initiated further proceedings to require both RTOs to include the minimum run-time requirements applicable to ESRs and other generation resources in their Tariffs, and initiated an investigation into whether PJM’s application of minimum run-time requirements to ESRs participating in its capacity markets is just and reasonable. FERC also directed SPP and PJM to take further action, requiring both RTOs to submit compliance filings within 60 days that, as one example, address the basic metering and accounting practices applicable to ESRs. Commissioner McNamee issued separate opinions concurring with both orders.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC denied a complaint filed in June 2019 by Nevada Hydro Company, Inc. (“Nevada Hydro”) alleging that the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) failed to follow its Tariff requirements in studying the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project (“LEAPS”) as a transmission facility in CAISO’s 2018-2019 transmission planning process. FERC concluded that Nevada Hydro failed to demonstrate that CAISO violated its Tariff in studying LEAPS as a proposed reliability-driven transmission solution and as a proposed economic transmission project. Rather, FERC accepted CAISO’s conclusion that it could identify no reliability need for LEAPS, and that the project’s economic benefits are far outweighed by its costs. FERC’s October 17 order also explained that it found no evidence that CAISO’s treatment of LEAPS was biased by a predetermined conclusion that LEAPS is a generation asset or that storage cannot qualify as transmission. FERC went on to note that a project’s ability to provide transmission benefits does not equate to a transmission need, nor does it guarantee eligibility to recover costs through transmission rates.
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