On September 6, 2018, FERC mostly denied rehearing of its February 20, 2018 order (“Proposal Order”) that accepted PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposal to reduce the number of bidding points at which virtual transactions may be submitted by market participants (“Virtual Transactions Proposal”), finding PJM’s Virtual Transactions Proposal just and reasonable.  However, FERC did grant rehearing with respect to PJM’s request to modify the effective date of the revisions accepted in the Proposal Order to February 22, 2018. Continue Reading FERC Mostly Denies Rehearing of Order Accepting PJM Proposal to Reduce Bidding Points for Virtual Transactions

On September 4, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, two bills related to FERC’s authority under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).  One bill, S. 186, would allow challenges to rate changes that would automatically go into effect when FERC is deadlocked.  The other bill, H.R. 1109, changes the monetary thresholds for determining when a proposed merger or acquisition requires FERC approval. Continue Reading U.S. Senate Passes Bills Related to FERC Deadlock, Merger Review

On July 26, 2018, FERC approved AEP Energy Partners, Inc.’s (“AEP Energy”) request that Sharyland Utilities, L.P., AEP Texas, Inc., and Electric Transmission Texas, LLC (collectively, “Tie Owners”) provide AEP Energy with transmission service across interconnections between the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”) and the Mexcian Comisión Federal de Electricidad (“CFE”) transmission system.  In issuing that ruling, FERC seemingly went out of its way to suggest that if two proposed transmission projects – unrelated to AEP Energy’s request – are completed, the interconnections between ERCOT and the CFE system could result in interstate power flows in ERCOT.  While the Commission did not go any further other than to point out this fact, if FERC finds that such interstate power flows exist, FERC could potentially subject utilities in ERCOT to FERC’s plenary Federal Power Act (“FPA”) jurisdiction. Continue Reading FERC Suggests Interstate Power Flows Could Be Coming to ERCOT

On June 29, 2018, FERC approved the California Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“CAISO”) revisions to its congestion revenue rights (“CRR”) auction intended to address the shortfall between CRR auction revenues and amounts owed by CAISO to holders of auctioned CRRs.  Specifically, CAISO proposed to (1) require CAISO transmission owners to submit all known transmission maintenance outages for the next year by July 1, rather than October 15; and (2) limit the allowable source and sink pairs eligible for the CRR auction to pairs associated with supply delivery and to exclude non-delivery CRR pairs. Continue Reading FERC Approves Changes to CAISO’s Congestion Revenue Rights Auction

On June 15, 2018, in separate opinions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) affirmed two FERC rulings that denied utilities’ requests to be made whole for purchasing natural gas at inflated prices to comply with their PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) capacity resource obligations during the 2014 Polar Vortex.  Specifically, the D.C. Circuit upheld FERC’s holdings that (1) permitting the utility in one case to recover costs retroactively would violate the filed rate doctrine and the rule prohibiting retroactive ratemaking and (2) the utility in the second case was not entitled to indemnification for its losses resulting from PJM requesting the utility to comply with its capacity resource obligations. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Affirms Denial of Recovery of Gas Purchase Costs During 2014 Polar Vortex

On June 12, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) rejected challenges to FERC orders modifying PJM’s financial transmission right (“FTR”) and auction revenue right (“ARR”) designs.  FERC had ordered changes to PJM’s FTR/ARR designs to address PJM’s inability to make all of the payments owed to FTR owners. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Upholds FERC’s Changes to PJM’s FTR and ARR Designs

On May 18, 2018, FERC denied rehearing of its April 28, 2016 order (the “April 28 Order”) approving Dominion Transmission, Inc.’s (“Dominion”) New Market Project.  Notably, FERC held that it is not required to analyze the upstream and downstream impacts of a proposed pipeline project unless those impacts are considered cumulative or indirect effects within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).  Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick dissented in part, instead finding that FERC is required to provide the public with information relating to the upstream and downstream impacts of a proposed project and stating that FERC should ask applicants to provide such information. Continue Reading FERC Limits Analysis of Upstream/Downstream Impacts of Proposed Gas Pipeline Projects

On May 4, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“Second Circuit”) dismissed a private suit filed by a group of investors (“Plaintiffs”) seeking damages for Total Gas & Power North America, Inc., Total S.A., and Total Gas & Power Limited (collectively, “Total”) for allegedly manipulating natural gas markets at four western trading hubs.  In doing so, the Second Circuit held that Plaintiffs – who did not trade at the four western trading hubs at which Total traded, but argued that Total’s trading impacted Plaintiffs’ trading at the Henry Hub – established constitutional standing but failed to plead sufficient facts to establish a plausible substantive cause of action. Continue Reading Second Circuit Dismisses Private Suit Against Total for Alleged Gas Market Manipulation

On April 24, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) held that FERC lacks jurisdiction over certain of the City of Clarksville, Tennessee’s (“Clarksville”) interstate sales of natural gas for resale, because the plain language of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) excludes sales by municipalities from FERC’s jurisdiction, which extends to interstate sales of natural gas for resale under NGA section 7. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Holds that FERC Lacks Jurisdiction over Certain Interstate Gas Sales by Municipalities

On April 19, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking information regarding whether—and if so, how—to revise its policy for determining if a proposed natural gas pipeline is in the public convenience and necessity.  Specifically, the NOI requests information in four areas related to FERC’s policy for reviewing such certificate applications: (1) determining need for a pipeline project; (2) eminent domain issues; (3) evaluating environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and climate change; and (4) changes that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of FERC’s review. Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice of Inquiry into Pipeline Certificate Policy