I. Summary of NOPR

On March 19, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to revise its electric transmission incentive policy under Federal Power Act (FPA) Section 219[1] “to stimulate the development of transmission infrastructure needed to support the nation’s evolving generation resource mix, technological innovation

On March 6, 2020, FERC rejected ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) and the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s proposed revisions to the ISO-NE Tariff intended to eliminate ISO-NE’s ability to retain a resource for local transmission reliability needs if that resource has been previously retained for fuel security purposes (“Proposed Tariff Revisions”). FERC found that the Tariff Revisions were not just and reasonable because they would limit ISO-NE’s ability to address potential future transmission reliability issues without alternative transmission solutions yet being in place.
Continue Reading

On February 28, 2020, FERC rejected Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) Tariff proposal to subject generation resources that are not designated as capacity resources (“Non-Capacity Resources”) to MISO’s physical withholding rules in MISO’s day-ahead market. FERC determined that MISO’s proposed revisions lacked sufficient clarity and would effectively subject Non-Capacity Resources to a must-offer rule obligation without a corresponding capacity payment.
Continue Reading

On February 27, 2020, FERC accepted a compliance filing from PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) that proposed identical revisions to Attachment K of the PJM Tariff and Schedule 1 of the PJM Operating Agreement, finding that the revisions met the requirements of Opinion No. 566, issued August 26, 2019. In accepting PJM’s compliance filing, FERC found that the PJM Tariff now includes greater transparency regarding the process used to evaluate requests to build network upgrades in order to obtain Incremental Auction Revenue Rights (“IARRs”).
Continue Reading

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”).
Continue Reading

On February 10, 2020, FERC filed its Rehearing En Banc Brief (“Brief”) regarding opposition to FERC’s authorization of the construction of Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s (“Transco”) proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project (“Project”)—an interstate pipeline designed to supply enough natural gas to meet the daily needs of more than 7 million American homes. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Circuit”) issued an opinion on August 2, 2019, upholding FERC’s decision to conditionally approve the Project. However, on September 16, 2019, Hilltop Hollow Limited Partnership, Hilltop Hollow Limited Partnership, LLC, and Stephen D. Hoffman (“Petitioners”) petitioned the court for rehearing of the court’s opinion en banc. The Petitioner’s main challenge was FERC’s usage of tolling orders, which allows FERC to delay rehearing after granting a pipeline certificate, as impermissible under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The court granted that petition and vacated the underlying judgment in a December 5, 2019 order (see December 11, 2019 WER).
Continue Reading

On January 27, 2020, FERC petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”) for rehearing en banc of that court’s split (2-1) decision finding that the bankruptcy court’s concurrent jurisdiction is paramount, and that therefore, FERC-jurisdictional power purchase agreements may be rejected in bankruptcy without FERC review (see December 19, 2019 edition of the WER for a detailed analysis of the majority’s opinion and Judge Richard Allen Griffin’s opinion dissenting in part). This case is important because different courts have come to opposite conclusions over whether a debtor must obtain FERC authorization before it effects rejection in bankruptcy of a FERC-jurisdictional contract. This issue is also pending before the Ninth Circuit in proceedings associated with Pacific Gas & Electric’s ongoing bankruptcy proceeding.
Continue Reading

On January 9, 2020, FERC rejected Constellation Mystic Power, LLC’s (“Mystic”) proposed amendment to its cost-of-service agreement (“Mystic Agreement”) with ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) that would have provided Mystic the option to unilaterally retire Mystic Generating Station units 8 and 9 (“Mystic Generators”).  FERC found that giving Mystic the option to retire the Mystic Generators early would pose an unacceptable risk to reliability.  Commissioner Glick concurred in part and dissented in part.
Continue Reading

On December 20, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied petitions for review of a series of FERC orders that exempted certain North Carolina transmission customers of Virginia Electric and Power Company (“Dominion”) from the incremental costs to underground certain transmission lines in the Virginia portion of the Dominion’s service territory.  The challenges were brought by certain Virginia transmission customers of Dominion Energy, which sought to overturn FERC’s determination that only Dominion’s Virginia wholesale customers, not its North Carolina customers, should bear the costs of undergrounding three transmission line upgrade projects.
Continue Reading