On April 2, 2019, FERC affirmed its decision that the New York Department of Environmental Conversation (“NY DEC”) waived its authority to issue or deny a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) section 401 water quality permit application filed by National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation and Empire Pipeline, Inc. (collectively, “National Fuel”) by failing to act on the application within one year of receipt.  Specifically, FERC held that an agreement between NY DEC and National Fuel to alter the receipt date of the application did not extend the CWA’s statutory one-year deadline for NY DEC to act on the application.
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On March 26, 2019, FERC accepted, subject to condition, AMP Transmission, LLC’s (“AMP”) proposed formula rate template and implementation protocols (collectively, “Formula Rate”) to recover a revenue requirement based on a cash-flow method for AMP’s integrated transmission facilities located in the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) region.  As a minor condition of acceptance, FERC directed AMP to revise on compliance its Formula Rate to enable AMP to use it in PJM transmission zones that require different rate years, as opposed to only in zones whose rate year is based on the calendar year.
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On March 21, 2019, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking information regarding whether and how to revise its policy for determining the rate of return on equity (“ROE”) used in setting rates charged by jurisdictional public utilities.  The NOI also seeks comment on whether any changes to the Commission’s ROE policies for public utilities should be applied to interstate natural gas and oil pipelines.  Specifically, the NOI requests information in eight areas:  (1) the role of FERC’s base ROE in investment decision-making and what objectives should guide the Commission’s approach; (2) whether uniform application of FERC’s base ROE policy across the electric, interstate natural gas pipeline and oil pipeline industries is appropriate and advisable; (3) performance of the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) model; (4) proxy groups; (5) the choice of financial model(s) used; (6) the mismatch between market-based ROE determinations and book-value rate base; (7) how FERC determines whether an existing ROE is unjust and unreasonable under the first prong of Federal Power Act section 206; and (8) model mechanics and implementation.
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On February 28, 2019, FERC denied the Coalition of Midwest Power Producers, Inc.’s (“Power Producers”) complaint alleging that Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) violated its tariff (“OATT”) by not requiring all capacity resources to be deliverable up to their installed capacity levels (“Complaint”).  FERC concluded that MISO reasonably implemented its OATT provisions regarding capacity resources.
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On February 21, 2019, FERC took “a new approach” to its approval of pending FERC-jurisdictional liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) projects by calculating the direct greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions from the operation of the project facilities and comparing those emissions to the national level.  FERC’s approach was a step toward ultimately approving a proposed LNG project that was previously pulled from FERC’s December 2018 open meeting.  Notwithstanding FERC’s approval, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur reiterated her concern that while FERC’s disclosure of national comparison data is only the first step, “the Commission has not identified a framework for making a significance determination” based on GHG emissions.  Meanwhile, Commissioner Richard Glick dissented, arguing that FERC’s GHG analysis fails to meet the requirements of both the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) and the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), both of which require that FERC consider climate change implications in some manner.  Separately, FERC approved two smaller gas pipeline projects, with Commissioner LaFleur issuing separate concurrences, and Commissioner Glick issuing separate dissents, in each.   
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On February 22, 2019, FERC issued a final rule (“Order No. 857”) conforming FERC’s regulations to the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (“AWIA”), which amended sections of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) pertaining to preliminary permits, qualifying conduit hydropower facilities, and start for payment of annual charges. 
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In orders issued on January 25 and 28, 2019, FERC concluded that the Commission and the bankruptcy courts have concurrent jurisdiction to review and address the disposition of FERC-jurisdictional contracts sought to be rejected through bankruptcy and, therefore, a party to a FERC-jurisdictional wholesale power agreement must first obtain approval from both FERC and the bankruptcy court to modify the filed rate and reject the filed wholesale power contract, respectively.  FERC made its determination in response to two separate petitions (“Petitions”) filed by NextEra Energy, Inc. and NextEra Energy Partners, L.P. (collectively, “NextEra”) and Exelon Corporation (“Exelon”), individually, against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”).  In those Petitions, NextEra and Exelon asked FERC to clarify its authority regarding the prospect of PG&E seeking to reject or amend FERC-jurisdictional wholesale power agreements in its anticipated bankruptcy proceeding.  On January 29, 2019, PG&E submitted its anticipated bankruptcy filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.   
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On January 18, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied a petition by the State of North Carolina to review two FERC orders involving the relicensing of the Yadkin River Hydroelectric Project (“Yadkin Project”) in North Carolina.  The D.C. Circuit found substantial evidence supporting FERC’s decision to deny North Carolina’s allegations of misrepresentation by Alcoa Power Generating, Inc. (“Alcoa”), the license applicant, and to grant a new operating license to Alcoa for the Yadkin Project.  The court also rejected North Carolina’s proposal to invoke the federal recapture provision of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) to the state at Alcoa’s net investment plus severance damages.
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On January 4, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine (“Maine District Court”) issued an order on two motions for summary judgment concluding that FERC’s assessment of a civil penalty against Competitive Energy Services, LLC (“CES”) and its managing member, Richard Silkman (collectively, “Respondents”) was not time-barred by the statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. § 2462.  In doing so, the Maine District Court denied the Respondents’ motion for summary judgment. 
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