On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed S. 3021, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (“AWIA”), which contains several hydropower provisions that seek to amend the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) to promote hydropower development.  The Senate passed the AWIA by a 99-1 vote.  The AWIA was previously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 14, 2018 and will now go to the President for his signature. Continue Reading Congress Includes Hydropower Provisions in Water Bill Sent to the White House

On October 2, 2018, PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) submitted a filing at FERC (“October 2 Filing”) in response to a June 29, 2018 FERC order invalidating PJM’s capacity market rules (“June 29 Order”).  FERC found PJM’s existing capacity market rules unjust and unreasonable because they do not consider the impacts state subsidies have on PJM’s capacity market.  In the October 2 Filing, PJM proposes two alternative methods in response to the June 2018 Order: an expanded Minimum Offer Price Rule (“MOPR”) and Resource Carve-Out construct. Continue Reading PJM Proposes New Fix to Capacity Market to Address State-Subsidized Resources

On September 27, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“Second Circuit”) dismissed challenges to the New York zero emission credit (“ZEC”) program, ruling that: (1) the ZEC program is not field preempted by the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) because the ZEC program is not expressly tied to wholesale market participation or prices; (2) the ZEC program is not conflict preempted because it does not intrude on federal goals; and (3) the ZEC challengers did not have standing to raise a dormant Commerce Clause claim because they did not own out-of-state nuclear generators that they alleged were discriminated against by the ZEC program. Continue Reading Second Circuit Upholds NY ZEC Program

On August 31, 2018, FERC and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”), an agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) to coordinate the siting and safety review of FERC-jurisdictional Liquified Natural Gas (“LNG”) facilities. Continue Reading FERC, PHMSA Execute MOU on LNG Transportation Facilities

On September 13, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (“Seventh Circuit”) dismissed challenges to the Illinois “zero emission credit” (“ZEC”) program, a state law which compensates nuclear plants and other generators that do not produce carbon emissions (“ZEC Program”).  In doing so, the Seventh Circuit ruled, among other things, that: (1) the ZEC Program is not preempted by the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) because eligibility to receive ZECs does not depend on the generator’s participation in a wholesale auction, and (2) the ZEC Program does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause because it does not discriminate against interstate commerce. Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Rejects Challenges to Illinois ZECs Program

On September 12, 2018, FERC announced the initiation of a joint inquiry with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) into a cold weather event that occurred in the Midwest and part of the South Central U.S. mid-January of this year.  Specifically, on January 17, 2018, regional operators in the midwest and south central United States issued emergency appeals for electricity conservation after an atypical forecast in electricity demand due to unusually cold temperatures.  As a result, there were reports of multiple forced generation outages, voltage deviations, and near-overloads during peak operations. Continue Reading FERC, NERC Announce Inquiry into January 2018 Cold Weather Event

On September 6, 2018, FERC denied the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) rehearing request of FERC’s prior order rejecting proposed revisions to PJM’s Amended and Restated Operating Agreement (“Operating Agreement”) and Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”) that would allocate uplift charges to Up-to-Congest transactions (“UTCs”) similarly to other virtual transactions.  However, FERC granted rehearing in part to accept PJM’s proposal to exclude internal bilateral transactions from the calculation of supply and demand deviations for the purpose of uplift allocation. Continue Reading FERC Grants Partial Rehearing of PJM Uplift Allocation Order

On August 31, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) issued an order (“August 31 Order”) in which it denied a complaint  (“Complaint”) by the California Public Utilities Commission, Northern California Power Agency, City and County of San Francisco, the State Water Contractors, and the Transmission Agency of Northern California (collectively, “Complainants”) against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”).  Complainants alleged that PG&E was in violation of its obligation under Order No. 890 to conduct an open, coordinated, and transparent transmission planning process because, according to Complainants, more than 80 percent of PG&E’s transmission planning is done on an internal basis without opportunity for stakeholder input or review.  In Order No. 890, the Commission found, among other things, that in order for a Regional Transmission Organization or Independent System Operator’s transmission planning processes to be open and transparent, transmission customers and stakeholders must be able to participate in each underlying transmission owner’s transmission planning process.  Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaint Regarding PG&E’s Order No. 890 Compliance

On July 25, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (“Fourth Circuit”) affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia’s (“District Court”) opinion rejecting landowners’ constitutional challenge provisions of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) regarding the natural gas pipeline certificate process.  Specifically, the Fourth Circuit agreed that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to review the complaint, finding that Congress intended the complaint to be brought before FERC instead. Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Dismisses Constitutional Challenges to NGA Pipeline Certificate Process

On July 18, 2018, FERC issued Order No. 849, finalizing its procedures and regulations regarding the effect of reduced corporate income taxes on certain natural gas pipelines and their rates at FERC.  Notably, Order No. 849 requires interstate natural gas pipelines to submit “FERC Form No. 501-G,” an abbreviated cost and revenue study designed to illustrate the effect of reduced corporate tax rates, which FERC might then use to determine whether the pipeline’s rates may be unjust and unreasonable under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).  Continue Reading FERC Finalizes Procedures for Evaluating Income Tax Cuts on Gas Pipeline Rates