On February 20, 2020, FERC issued Order No. 861-A, granting certain clarifications about, and denying rehearing of, FERC’s sweeping market-based rate reforms in Order No. 861 (see July 24, 2019 edition of the WER). In Order No. 861-A, FERC held that sellers of capacity located in the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) market must continue to submit indicative screens in order to obtain authorization to make capacity sales at market-based rates. FERC also affirmed that capacity sellers located in CAISO may not rely on a rebuttable presumption that the Capacity Procurement Mechanism (“CPM”) adequately mitigates these sellers’ horizontal market power. FERC issued Order No. 861-A in response to requests for rehearing and clarification from CAISO and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”).
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On February 5, 2020, FERC denied a request from demand-side energy management company Enerwise Global Technologies, Inc. d/b/a CPower (“CPower”) for a one-time waiver of ISO New England, Inc’s (“ISO-NE”) Market Rule 1 in order to permit CPower’s summer-only demand capacity distributed generation resources, for which it elected Renewable Technology Resource (“RTR”) treatment, to participate in ISO-NE’s fourteenth Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA 14”) and the substitution auction. CPower presented two alternative options for waiver, arguing that an unintended interaction between ISO-NE’s RTR and “composite offer” Tariff provisions caused its resources to be excluded from FCA 14 and the substitution auction. FERC denied CPower’s request, even though ISO-NE supported one of the alternatives that CPower presented. Commissioner Richard Glick dissented in part, explaining that he also would have granted one of CPower’s proffered waiver options.
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On January 31, 2020, FERC rejected Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposed Tariff revisions to eliminate SPP’s current policy of offering transmission revenue credits as reimbursement for certain transmission network upgrades, and to instead provide term- and value-limited transmission congestion rights for all such upgrades. Under SPP’s proposal, a party that funds certain network upgrades would receive incremental transmission congestion rights for a limited term of up to twenty years or until the party that sponsored the upgrade recovered their costs, with interest. FERC held that this cap on recovery would disincentivize construction of merchant transmission projects, and rejected SPP’s proposal without prejudice to SPP submitting a revised proposal that does not impose a cap on the term and value of the incremental transmission congestion rights.
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On January 30, 2020, FERC granted in part and denied in part a declaratory order petition filed by PennEast Pipeline Company (“PennEast”) requesting that the Commission interpret the scope of a natural gas pipeline company’s eminent domain authority under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”). FERC’s order follows a September 2019 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third Circuit”), In re PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC (see September 18, 2019 edition of the WER). FERC’s January 30 declaratory order agreed with PennEast that Congress intended the NGA to be a vehicle for granting condemnation authority, and therefore intended to delegate the federal government’s own exemption from state sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to a natural gas company that holds a valid, FERC-issued Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (“CPCN”). However, FERC refrained from deciding whether that delegation of power is constitutional. The order was issued on a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Richard Glick dissenting on both procedural and substantive grounds.
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On January 24, 2020, FERC issued its rehearing order on several different issues regarding the recovery of costs associated with the abandoned Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline Project (“PATH”). Previously, in January 2017, FERC reduced PATH’s return on equity (“ROE”) during its abandonment phase from 10.4 to 8.11 percent, and denied PATH’s recovery of expenditures related to certain public relations activities. On rehearing, FERC:

  1. Upheld its prior determination that the project’s abandonment significantly reduced its risk profile;
  2. Declined to address PATH’s arguments that FERC erred in reducing its ROE to 8.11 percent, and instead established a paper hearing addressing whether and how FERC’s proposed revised base ROE methodology should apply; and
  3. Reversed its prior denial for PATH to recover expenditures related to public information campaigns about the benefits and licensing of the project.
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On January 14, 2019, FERC issued a letter order accepting, as of October 15, 2019, Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) proposal to implement a “Fast First” Automatic Generation Control (“AGC”) framework that, as MISO argues, would deploy fast-ramping generation resources more efficiently.  MISO explained that the Fast First AGC framework would better utilize and incentivize fast-ramping resources, including energy storage resources (“ESRs”), for frequency regulation.  MISO stated that, with increased supply-side volatility on its system due to integration of intermittent renewable resources, new AGC signals were needed for better system control and to better utilize the fast response rate of fast-ramping resources.
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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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