On June 26, 2019, the U.S. District Court of Maine (“District Court”) denied a motion for leave to file an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (“First Circuit”) ultimately concerning whether FERC’s enforcement action against Competitive Energy, LLC and its managing member Richard Silkman (collectively, “Respondents”) was time-barred.  The District Court previously denied two motions for summary judgment, relying on the First Circuit’s decision in United States v. Meyer (“Meyer”), which held that a FERC enforcement action accrues when FERC assesses a penalty, and therefore was not barred.  Respondents argued that the District Court should not have followed the First Circuit’s decision in Meyer because two subsequent United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”) decisions—Kokesh v. SEC (“Kokesh”) and Gabelli v. SEC (“Gabelli”)—have overruled Meyer.  In denying the motion for interlocutory appeal, the District Court held that whether Meyer continues to be good law does not present a “controlling question of law as to which there is a substantial ground for difference of opinion.” 
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On June 20, 2019, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur announced on Twitter that she will be leaving FERC at the end of August after serving on the Commission for nine years.  She first announced her intent to leave the Commission in January of this year.  In her recent announcement, Commissioner LaFleur noted that the July open meeting will be her last meeting as a commissioner.  FERC currently has four members—Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee, who are Republicans, and Commissioners LaFleur and Richard Glick, who are Democrats.  Assuming no nominee is confirmed by the end of August, Commissioner LaFleur’s departure would leave FERC with a two to one Republican majority, and a minimum number of commissioners for a quorum.
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On June 12, 2019, FERC issued an order on paper hearing (“June 12 Order”) finding that Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) quick-start pricing practices are unjust and unreasonable and directing SPP to revise its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) to: implement quick-start pricing provisions in order to more accurately reflect the marginal cost of serving load; provide clear and transparent price signals that better reflect investment decisions; minimize production costs; and reduce uplift. Quick-start resources (also referred to as “fast-start resources”) are able to start within ten minutes or less to meet transient or unforeseen system needs. Previously, energy supply from quick-start resources had not necessarily been included in SPP’s unified pricing and dispatch run, but after the June 12 Order, quick-start resources in SPP may participate in setting market-clearing energy prices under certain circumstances.
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On June 5, 2019, FERC revoked the self-certification for qualifying facility (“QF”) status of Eco Green Generation LLC’s (“Eco Green”) hybrid power generation facility (the “Facility”) located in and around Fairbanks, Alaska.  In doing so, FERC found that the Facility—which consists of a wind farm and twenty duel-fueled renewable diesel and propane engines intended to firm the energy generated by the wind farm—does not meet the criteria for a small power production QF or a cogeneration QF.
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On May 21, 2019, FERC announced that it will convene a staff-led public meeting on July 15, 2019 to discuss ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) development of tariff revisions addressing the regional fuel security concerns discussed by FERC in a July 2, 2018 order.  Commissioners from FERC are invited to attend and participate in the meeting, along with their staffs.
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On May 16, 2019, FERC rescinded its policy of issuing public Notices of Alleged Violations (“NAV”) after a subject of an investigation has had an opportunity to respond to Office of Enforcement (“OE”) staff’s preliminary findings (“NAV Policy”).  FERC found that the NAV Policy no longer struck an appropriate balance between the benefit of added transparency and the potential negative impacts that the loss of confidentiality may cause to investigative subjects.
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On May 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) dismissed Otsego 2000 Inc.’s (“Otsego”) petition to set aside a FERC order granting a certificate to Dominion Energy Transmission Inc. (“Dominion”) to construct and operate its New Market Project (“Project”).  Specifically, the D.C. Circuit found that Otsego failed to demonstrate standing to petition the court and that Otsego’s expenditure of resources for litigation was insufficient to demonstrate standing.
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On May 1, 2019, FERC denied Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (“PG&E”) requests for rehearing of two prior orders in which FERC held that it and the bankruptcy courts have concurrent jurisdiction to review and address the disposition of wholesale power contracts sought to be rejected through bankruptcy.  FERC’s order comes as the PG&E bankruptcy proceedings in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (“Bankruptcy Court”) remain ongoing.  The May 1 order affirmed FERC’s earlier conclusions in response to petitions from NextEra Energy, Inc./NextEra Energy Partners and Exelon Corporation that a party to a FERC-jurisdictional wholesale power contract must obtain approval from both the bankruptcy court and FERC to reject a contract and to modify the filed rate, respectively (see January 30, 2019 edition of the WER).  FERC clarified that rendering a determination on rejection motions was solely within the bankruptcy court’s province, but also made clear that rejection would not relieve PG&E of its separate regulatory obligations under the Federal Power Act.  The order may provide comfort to the Bankruptcy Court, which expressed concern over its exclusive authority to approve a rejection at an April 10 hearing.
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On April 23, 2019, FERC denied Flint Riverkeeper’s and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s (“Riverkeepers”) request for attorney’s fees after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) vacated the certificates of public convenience and necessity (“CPCNs”) FERC issued for the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (see March 20, 2018 edition of the WER).  In doing so, FERC found, among other things, that the certificate proceeding at FERC did not qualify as an “adversary proceeding” under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) for which the Riverkeepers could seek attorney’s fees because: (1) certificate proceedings are excluded from the definition of “adversary proceeding” and (2) FERC is not represented by counsel in a certificate proceeding but rather acts as an adjudicator.
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On April 18, 2019, FERC found that the fast-start pricing practices of New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) and PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) were unjust and unreasonable and directed NYISO and PJM to revise their tariffs to implement certain changes discussed in the orders (“2019 Orders”).  In doing so, FERC found that NYISO’s and PJM’s current fast-start tariff provisions do not allow prices to reflect the marginal cost of serving load.
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