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

On April 2, 2018, FERC denied a complaint alleging that the interconnection process under Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) tariff was unjust and unreasonable because certain wind generators were experiencing delays in the process, such that those customers would not receive a Generator Interconnection Agreement (“GIA”) in time to receive Federal Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) benefits.  In doing so, FERC found that there was no evidence that MISO was not making reasonable efforts to meet interconnection deadlines, as required by its tariff.  FERC added that prior precedent does not require MISO to ensure wind generators receive their GIA in time to receive full PTC benefits. Continue Reading FERC Holds that MISO Interconnection Process Need Not Ensure that Interconnection Customers Receive PTC Benefits

On March 16, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) affirmed FERC’s (1) reduction in NorthWestern Corporation’s (“NorthWestern”) Schedule 3 regulation service rate by removing “regulation-down” capacity from the rate’s numerator and increasing the denominator to the full nameplate capacity of NorthWestern’s generating facility and (2) decision to order NorthWestern to refund customers the difference between NorthWestern’s proposed rate and FERC’s approved rate. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Affirms FERC’s Modifications to NorthWestern’s Regulation Service Rate

On March 14, 2018 and March 15, 2018, FERC issued separate orders (1) reinstating the certificate for the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (“SMP Project”) and (2) authorizing DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC’s (“DTE”) Birdsboro Pipeline Project.  In approving the projects, FERC held that determining the significance of the indirect effect of a pipeline on downstream greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions is not possible for purposes of FERC’s National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) analysis, and that the Social Cost of Carbon tool is not appropriate for estimating a project’s downstream impacts in FERC’s NEPA analysis.  In partial dissents, Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick asserted that GHG emissions estimates and the Social Cost of Carbon tool can inform FERC’s Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 7 evaluation. Continue Reading FERC Certificate Orders Address Estimates of Pipeline Impacts on Downstream GHG Emissions

On March 12, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (“Second Circuit”) held that the New York Department of Environmental Conversation (“NY DEC”) waived its authority to act on Millennium Pipeline Company, L.L.C.’s (“Millennium”) application for a Clean Water Act (“CWA”) section 401 water quality certification by not acting on the application within one year of receipt.  In doing so, the Second Circuit rejected the NY DEC’s argument that the one-year statutory deadline begins when a state agency deems the application complete, rather than when the application is received. Continue Reading Second Circuit Affirms FERC Ruling that NY DEC Waived Authority on CWA Permit for Pipeline Project

On March 7, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) granted FERC’s request to stay the issuance of a mandate that would have vacated FERC’s certificate order approving the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (“SMP Project”), a natural gas pipeline currently in service in the southeastern United States.  The D.C. Circuit’s order effectively avoids shutdown of the SMP Project while FERC finalizes its supplemental review of the project incorporating its revised environmental analysis.  As a result of the D.C. Circuit’s order, FERC now has until March 26, 2018 to issue a new order authorizing the project. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Grants FERC Extra Time to Reissue Approval of SE Market Pipelines Project

On February 23, 2018, FERC approved PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) changes to its tariff and Reliability Assurance Agreement (“RAA”) to revise Reliability Pricing Model (“RPM”) capacity market rules in order to accommodate greater participation from seasonal resources.  Specifically, FERC approved changes related to: (1) resource aggregation for submitting combined capacity market sell offers; (2) granting winter-period interconnection rights; and (3) demand response resource measurement and verification for seasonal resources.  However, FERC separately responded to complaints that the RPM does not adequately accommodate seasonal resources by directing FERC staff to establish a technical conference to explore whether further changes are needed to permit seasonal resource participation. Continue Reading FERC Orders Technical Conference on Seasonal Resources Participating in PJM’s RPM Capacity Market

On February 20, 2018, FERC approved PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposal to, among other things, (1) eliminate biddable points at zone nodes, certain generator nodes, certain aggregate nodes, and individual load zones for Increment Offers (“INCs”) and Decrement Bids (“DECs”) and instead align the eligible trading points for INCs and DECs with nodes where generation, load, or interchange transactions are settled, or at trading hubs where forward positions can be taken; and (2) allow trading of Up-to-Congestion transactions (“UTCs”) at hubs, residual metered load, and interfaces, but not at individual nodes. Continue Reading FERC Approves PJM’s Proposal to Reduce Bidding Points for Virtual Transactions