On July 23, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third Circuit”) ruled that state substantive law should be used as the federal standard when determining landowners’ compensation in condemnation actions brought by private entities acting under the Natural Gas Act of 1938 (“NGA”).  The Third Circuit ruling reversed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (“District Court”) and remanded the case for further proceedings.
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On July 19, 2019, FERC largely denied four complaints filed in May and June of 2015 (“2015 Complaints”) concerning the results of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) 2015/16 Planning Resource Auction (“2015/16 Auction”) for Local Resource Zone 4 (“Zone 4”).  In relevant part, FERC: (1) found that the results of the 2015/16 Auction for Zone 4 were just and reasonable; and (2) denied requests to hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve issues related to the 2015/16 Auction.  Specifically, FERC found no evidence in the record indicating that certain Auction offers violated the MISO Tariff, and the resulting Zone 4 auction-clearing price was just and reasonable.
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On June 24, 2019, FERC issued an order rejecting, without prejudice, Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) and the MISO Transmission Owners’ (“MISO TOs”) proposal to allocate MISO’s share of the costs of certain interregional economic transmission projects with PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) and Southwest Power Pool, Inc. within the MISO footprint (“Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal”).  FERC explained that it rejected the Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal because it referenced and relied on certain provisions contained within a related, regional cost allocation proposal that FERC rejected as inconsistent with cost causation principles in a concurrently-issued order (see July 18, 2019 edition of the WER ).  The June 24 order also rejected MISO’s submission of the Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal in a compliance filing in a separate complaint proceeding.  FERC directed MISO to submit a new compliance filing either to confirm that an existing cost allocation method will apply to interregional projects, or to propose a new cost allocation method for these projects.
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On June 20, 2019, FERC issued an Order on Voluntary Remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) directing PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to refund certain line loss over-collection amounts to certain virtual traders.  Upon re-examining its refund authority in light of recent court precedent, FERC determined that it has greater discretion to order refunds in cost allocation and rate design proceedings than it previously had determined.
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On June 11, 2019, FERC accepted Republic Transmission LLC’s (“Republic”) proposed transmission formula rate (“Formula Rate”) that will be incorporated into Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) tariff when Republic becomes a transmission owner in MISO.  Additionally, FERC granted Republic’s request for authorization to allow future affiliates or subsidiaries of Republic that undertake transmission projects in the MISO region to apply the Formula Rate, as well as the transmission rate incentives previously granted to Republic (“Incentives”).
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On June 11, 2019, FERC accepted, suspended for five months, and set for hearing Southern California Edison Company’s (“SoCal Edison”) revised transmission owner tariff and formula rate (“Formula Rate”), which includes an increased base 2019 transmission revenue requirement (“2019 TRR”).  SoCal Edison’s proposed rate increase is intended to account for the increased financial risks associated with wildfires in California.   
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On May 28, 2019, FERC issued an order approving Commonwealth Edison Company’s (“ComEd”) proposal to modify its formula transmission rate (“Formula Rate”) to recover its portion of the costs to construct, operate, and maintain the Superconductor Cable Development Project (the “Project”).  FERC also approved ComEd’s request for a transmission rate incentive to recover 100 percent of its prudently incurred costs if the Project is cancelled or abandoned for reasons outside ComEd’s control (“Abandonment Incentive”).  FERC found that the Project is properly treated as transmission plant, and thus eligible for recovery in ComEd’s Formula Rate and that the Commission’s approval of ComEd’s requested Abandonment Incentive is appropriate for the Project, which reflects an innovative use of an advanced technology that will improve system reliability.
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On June 4, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) upheld FERC’s authorization for Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (“Tennessee”) to build a new natural gas compressor station as part of its Broad Run Expansion Project (“the Project”).  Petitioners had argued, among other items, that FERC’s decision to approve the Project violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) by failing to address the reasonably foreseeable indirect environmental impacts resulting from: 1) increased gas production upstream of the Project, and 2) increased gas combustion downstream of the Project.  While the D.C. Circuit rejected the Petitioners’ arguments, it did so on jurisdictional grounds.  After concluding that FERC should have asked Tennessee for information about the upstream and downstream indirect environmental effects associated with the Project, the D.C. Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to conclude that FERC acted arbitrarily or capriciously because Petitioners did not argue that FERC violated NEPA by failing to seek out this information.
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On May 16, 2019, FERC’s Offices of Electric Reliability and Enforcement issued the Summer 2019 Reliability and Energy Market Assessment (“2019 Summer Assessment”), a high-level summary of anticipated reliability challenges for the upcoming operating season and prospective assessment of electric and natural gas markets.  While higher than average temperatures are predicted for the West, South, and Eastern regions of the country this summer, the report concludes that reserve margins—a measure of the projected capability of anticipated resources to serve forecasted peak load—will be adequate in all regions except the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”).  The 2019 Summer Assessment also predicts high hydroelectric power production in California, continued rapid growth in battery storage, wind, and solar capacity, as well as growth in demand for natural gas driven by new LNG export capacity.
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On April 26, 2019, PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (“PPL Electric”) petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) for review of two FERC rehearing orders that replaced the cost allocation method by which PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) assigns responsibility for a portion of costs for certain facilities that address stability-related reliability issues.  Specifically, FERC’s rehearing orders changed the cost allocation method used for certain facilities, including the Artificial Island Project (“Artificial Island”), that are located in the PJM region.
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