On March 20, 2020, FERC denied rehearing of a February 2018 order accepting the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) resource adequacy Tariff provisions (see March 5, 2018 edition of the WER). FERC noted that many of the arguments raised on rehearing sought to impose on MISO the rules and requirements used in the centralized capacity markets in the eastern Regional Transmission Organizations/Independent System Operators (“RTOs/ISOs”). FERC rejected those arguments, concluding that unlike the centralized capacity constructs used in the eastern RTOs/ISOs, MISO’s capacity auction is not, and never has been, the primary mechanism for Load-Serving Entities (“LSEs”) to procure capacity.
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On March 4, 2020, FERC denied rehearing of its prior order rejecting the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (“NJBPU”) complaint alleging unjust and unreasonable cost allocations for the Bergen-Linden Corridor transmission project (“BLC Project”). FERC found that it had already fully addressed the issues raised in the original complaint and that there was no need for an evidentiary hearing to evaluate disputed facts related to the BLC Project.
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On February 14, 2020, FERC rejected ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) and the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s (together with ISO-NE, the “Filing Parties”) proposed revisions to the ISO-NE tariff intended to allow for the termination of ISO-NE’s Fuel Security Reliability Retention Mechanism (“Fuel Security Mechanism”) at the end of Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”) 14 – one year earlier than currently provided in the tariff. The Fuel Security Mechanism allows ISO-NE to retain resources for fuel security that seek to retire in FCAs 13, 14, or 15 and was initially implemented following ISO-NE’s 2018 petition for waiver seeking to retain two retiring Mystic Units through FCA 15 (“Mystic Units”). FERC rejected the filing because ISO-NE had not yet submitted its proposed long-term solutions to address fuel security concerns and because it found that that ISO-NE’s proposed interim solutions were inadequate. FERC Commissioner Richard Glick dissented from the order, arguing the majority lacked a reasoned basis to find that ISO-NE’s filing was not just and reasonable.
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On January 31, 2020, FERC granted Xcel Energy Services Inc.’s application to terminate Southwestern Public Service Company’s (“SPS”) mandatory purchase obligation under Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). In its order, FERC specifically found that (i) SPS, as a member of Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”), is entitled to the presumption that qualifying cogeneration or small power production facilities (“QFs”) within SPS’s footprint have nondiscriminatory access to markets, and (ii) the protestors failed to adequately rebut this presumption. Accordingly, SPS is relieved of its obligation to enter into new contracts to purchase QF electric energy. FERC granted the application effective September 5, 2019.
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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 10, 2020, FERC issued two separate orders approving Stipulation and Consent Agreements (“Agreements”) between the Office of Enforcement (“Enforcement”) and Emera Energy Incorporated (“Emera Energy”) and Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”), respectively. Both Agreements relate to alleged violations of ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) Tariff. Specifically, with respect to Emera Energy, FERC alleged that Emera Energy violated the Tariff’s requirement that evidence supporting Fuel Price Adjustment Requests (“FPA Requests”) must reflect an arm’s length transaction. With respect to Exelon, FERC alleged that Exelon misreported the type and quantity of start-up fuel used by its Mystic 7 generating unit (“Mystic 7”). In both cases, FERC found that the Agreements were in the public interest and the Enforcement investigations were resolved on fair and equitable terms.

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On December 30, 2019, FERC accepted tariff revisions by the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) to apply three previously accepted-interim provisions designed to address the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility’s (“Aliso Canyon”) continued operational limitations and impacts on CAISO’s system.

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On December 2, 2019, FERC staff (“Staff”) issued its annual report (“Report”) on demand response and advanced metering, a high-level review of demand response potential in the retail and wholesale markets. In the Report, Staff highlights that: (i) advanced meters account for more than half of all meters in operation in the United States, (ii) multiple states have received approval for, or proposed, advanced meter deployment programs, (iii) many state regulators appear to support advanced meter investments, and (iv) from 2017 to 2018, there was an almost 8% increase in the overall demand response participation in wholesale markets.
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On November 21, 2019, FERC announced that public utilities with transmission formula rates must revise those rates to account for changes in accumulated deferred income taxes (“ADIT”) resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”). Utilities with transmission formula rates under an Open Access Transmission Tariff, a transmission owner tariff, or a rate schedule must:

  • include a mechanism to deduct any excess ADIT from, or add any deficient ADIT to, their rate base in order to ensure rate base neutrality (the “Rate Base Adjustment Mechanism”);
  • return to, or recover from, customers any excess or deficient ADIT through an adjustment to the formula rate’s income tax allowance (“Income Tax Allowance Adjustment Mechanism”); and
  • incorporate a new permanent worksheet into the formula rate to annually track ADIT amounts.

FERC declined to adopt any compliance requirements for transmission stated rates, finding that the utility’s next rate case would be the most appropriate place to address excess or deficient ADIT resulting from the TCJA. Compliance filings are due the later of: (1) 30 days from the effective date of the final rule; or (2) the utility’s next informational filing following the final rule. 
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