On June 12, 2018, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, through a concurrence in an order denying rehearing (“Rehearing Order”), announced that going forward she will try to consider and disclose the upstream and downstream greenhouse gas (“GHG”) impacts of proposed pipeline projects, even if such information is generic and ignored, as part of FERC’s public interest determination.  In the Rehearing Order, Commissioner LaFleur calculated her own estimation of the total downstream GHG emissions as part of her environmental review in the proceeding, even though the majority did not. Continue Reading Commissioner LaFleur Calculates Downstream GHG Impacts of Pipeline Project in Concurrence

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 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 29, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and FERC argued in a joint brief (“Joint Brief”) filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (“Seventh Circuit”) that Illinois’ plan to provide credits to nuclear power plants does not interfere with FERC’s authority over wholesale electricity markets.  DOJ and FERC filed the Joint Brief in response to the Seventh Circuit’s request asking the agencies for their views on whether the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) preempts Illinois’ zero emission credits program (“Illinois ZEC Program”). Continue Reading FERC/DOJ Argue that Federal Power Act Does Not Preempt Illinois’ Zero Emission Credits Program

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 17, 2018, FERC affirmed an Initial Decision addressing a bandwidth calculation filing applicable to a seven-month period in 2005 filed by Entergy Services, Inc. on behalf of the Entergy Operating Companies (“Operating Companies”; collectively, “Entergy”) in November 2016.  Continue Reading FERC Affirms Initial Decision Regarding Entergy’s Bandwidth Calculation Filing

On May 4, 2018, FERC approved the joint petition filed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), Midwest Reliability Organization (“MRO”), and SERC Reliability Corporation (“SERC”) (collectively “Petitioners”) requesting FERC approvals for the dissolution of the Southwest Power Pool Regional Entity (“SPP RE”), and the transfer of the registered entities within the SPP RE footprint to MRO and SERC (“Joint Petition”). Continue Reading FERC Approves of SPP Regional Entity Dissolution and Registered Entity Transfer to SERC, MRO

On April 30, 2018, the Commission granted the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) request for a limited waiver of a specific section of CAISO’s Tariff to allow CAISO to: (1) process out-of-time annual recertifications for certain resources as “Acquired Resources” for the 2018 resource adequacy compliance year, and (2) provide certainty to those resources that their Resource Adequacy Availability Incentive Mechanism (“RAAIM”) exemption for the 2017 resource adequacy compliance year will not be unwound. Continue Reading FERC Grants CAISO Waiver for Acquired Resources in RAAIM

On May 2, 2018, staff from FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), and the NERC Regional Entities (the “Joint Study Team”), issued a joint report titled “FERC-NERC-Regional Entity Joint Review of Restoration and Recovery Plans” (“Joint Report”), which evaluated blackstart resources and planning by a representative sample of nine volunteer utilities registered with NERC (the “Participants”).  According to the Joint Report, the Participants verified that they currently have sufficient blackstart resources in their system restoration plans, as well as comprehensive strategies for mitigating against loss of any additional blackstart resources going forward.  The Joint Report also made a number of recommendations for users, owners, or operators of the bulk-power system (“Registered Entities”) and others responsible for system restoration.

Continue Reading FERC, NERC, and Regional Entity Staff Issue Joint Report on Registered Entity Restoration and Recovery Plans