On December 20, 2018, FERC proposed to revise the horizontal market power analysis required for electric power sellers seeking to obtain or retain market-based rate authority in certain organized wholesale power markets (“NOPR”).  Specifically, FERC proposed to relieve electric power sellers of the obligation to submit indicative screens when seeking to obtain or retain market-based rate authority in any Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”)/Independent System Operator (“ISO”) market with FERC-approved RTO/ISO monitoring and mitigation, thus easing the regulatory burden for certain market-based rate sellers.  However, FERC proposed to continue to require market-based rate sellers in an RTO/ISO to submit indicative screens for authorization to make capacity sales at market-based rates in any RTO/ISO market that lacks an RTO/ISO-administered capacity market subject to FERC-approved RTO/ISO monitoring and mitigation. Continue Reading FERC Proposes to Ease Regulatory Burden for Certain Market-Based Rate Sellers

On December 11, 2018, FERC approved the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) proposed tariff revisions to remove the service territory of Entergy New Orleans, LLC (“Entergy New Orleans”) from Cost Allocation Zone 9 to its own new Cost Allocation Zone 12 (“Proposal”).  FERC found that the Proposal was just and reasonable because it would result in an allocation of costs that is at least roughly commensurate with MISO’s Transmission Expansion Plan (“MTEP”) economic project benefits. Continue Reading MISO to Establish New Rate Zone for Entergy New Orleans

On December 11, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of the Army (together, “Agencies”) released their much-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Proposed Rule”), which if adopted would scale back the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by narrowing the definition of “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) to include only those waters that are oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands, and their “naturally occurring surface water channels.”  The practical implications of the Proposed Rule for hydropower project owners and energy project developers are that ephemeral streams and many ponds and ditches used in agricultural, industrial, and construction activities would no longer be within the jurisdictional reach of the CWA, alleviating the requirement for and uncertainty surrounding permitting requirements and related mitigation measures. Continue Reading Trump Administration Releases “WOTUS” Rule Proposal

On December 3, 2018, FERC largely rejected a complaint filed by Monterey MA, LLC (“Monterey”) alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) improperly adjusted prices after two transmission line outage events for unauthorized reasons, and without proper notice and documentation in violation of PJM’s Tariff.  Monterey requested that FERC reinstate original prices and that changes be made to the Tariff relating to price revisions so that re-pricing events are more transparent for market participants.  FERC mostly found that Monterey’s allegations were unreasonable and thus largely denied Monterey’s complaint, including Monterrey’s request to reinstate the original market prices. Continue Reading FERC Largely Rejects Complaint Alleging PJM Improperly Adjusted Market Prices After Transmission Outages

On November 19, 2018, FERC accepted ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) request to terminate the capacity supply obligation (“CSO”) of the Clear River Unit 1 natural gas-fired generator (“Clear River”) for the 2021–2022 Capacity Commitment Period. In doing so, FERC found that ISO-NE had the right under its Tariff to terminate Clear River’s CSO because Clear River’s project sponsor, Invenergy Energy Management LLC (“Invenergy”), had covered Clear River’s CSO for two consecutive Capacity Commitment Periods. In the same order, FERC denied Invenergy’s request for waiver of certain provisions of ISO-NE’s Tariff related to the termination of Clear River’s CSO. Continue Reading FERC Accepts ISO New England’s Termination of Planned Generator’s Capacity Supply Obligation

On November 27, 2018, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“ENR Committee”) advanced FERC nominee Bernard McNamee to a full vote on the Senate floor.  The ENR Committee furthered Mr. McNamee’s nomination with a bipartisan vote of 13-10, with one Democrat joining the entire Republican majority on the ENR Committee.  If confirmed by the full Senate, Mr. McNamee will join current FERC Commissioners Cheryl A. LaFleur, Richard Glick, Kevin McIntyre, and Chairman Neil Chatterjee. Continue Reading Senate Committee Advances FERC Appointee Bernard McNamee to Confirmation Vote

On November 15, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) addressing the effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), which lowered the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, on accumulated deferred income tax (“ADIT”) balances. Specifically, FERC proposed to require transmission companies to remove excess ADIT or add deficient ADIT to their rate bases. In addition, FERC issued a policy statement providing accounting and ratemaking guidance related to the treatment of ADIT (“Policy Statement”). Continue Reading FERC Proposes Rule, Provides Guidance on Treatment of Impact of Tax Reductions on ADIT

On October 15, 2018, FERC issued two orders involving rate of return on equity (“ROE”): the first was an order directing parties in two proceedings involving the base ROE of the transmission owning members of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) to submit briefs concerning a proposed change in FERC’s approach to determining the base ROE of public utilities previously outlined in Martha Coakley v. Bangor Hydro-Elec. Co. (“Coakley Briefing Order”) (see October 25, 2018 edition of the WER); the second was an order providing guidance regarding the effect of the Coakley Briefing Order on pending proceedings involving base ROE issues that have been set for hearing and settlement judge procedures.

Continue Reading FERC Directs Briefing on Application of New ROE Methodology

On November 5, 2018, FERC granted in part and denied in part a rehearing request (“Rehearing Order”) filed by Ameren Services Company (“Ameren Services”), on behalf of its affiliate Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (together with Ameren Services, “Ameren”) of a FERC order (“February 13 Order”) denying Ameren’s request pursuant to Order No. 679 for a 100 basis point incentive rate of return on equity (“ROE Incentive”) for the Illinois Rivers and Mark Twain components (“Components”) of the Grand Rivers Project (“Project”).  In the February 13 Order, FERC denied Ameren’s requested ROE Incentive for the Components, largely because of construction progress made to date on the Illinois Rivers component.  In the Rehearing Order, FERC granted rehearing in part with respect to the Mark Twain component because that component is not substantially complete and, because based on its own merits, the Mark Twain component continues to face risks and challenges that warrant an ROE Incentive.  FERC denied rehearing with respect to the Illinois River component, however, upon finding that given the substantial completion of the Illinois Rivers component and limited remaining risks and challenges Ameren faces with respect to that component, Ameren’s requested ROE Incentive for Illinois River failed to meet the nexus test. Continue Reading FERC Grants Rehearing in Part, Grants Transmission ROE Incentive Adder

On November 6, 2018, clean energy ballot initiatives failed in several states.  In particular, voters rejected Arizona’s 50 percent renewable energy mandate, Washington’s fee on carbon emissions, Colorado’s limits on oil and gas drilling and Nevada’s retail choice initiative.  However, voters passed Nevada’s 50 percent renewable energy portfolio. Continue Reading Voters Reject Some State Ballot Initiatives on Clean Power and Deregulation