On October 30, 2019, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce held a hearing in furtherance of its development of comprehensive climate legislation focused on reaching a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050.  John Bear, the Chief Executive Officer of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) testified at the hearing while Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) and PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) provided input in response to an earlier request from the Committee. The three Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) generally reported increases in both renewable and distributed generation in their regions over the past several years, highlighting the operational and reliability challenges that can come along with the growing prevalence of both. The RTOs also recognized the widely divergent state decarbonization policies and the associated impacts to the regional wholesale markets.
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On October 23, 2019, FERC issued twin orders denying rehearing of the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Phase 1 and Phase 2 Revisions, which sought to resolve overlapping congestion charges on pseudo-tied generation in Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) and PJM. American Municipal Power (“AMP”) requested rehearing, arguing that FERC engaged in impermissible piecemeal ratemaking, failed to evaluate the ultimate end result of the revisions, and did not fully address overlapping congestion charges. FERC rejected AMP’s arguments, confirming that it fully considered the proposed revisions and found them just and reasonable.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC denied rehearing of its order denying a complaint filed by CXA La Paloma, LLC (“La Paloma”), which argued that the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) resource adequacy regime had become unjust and unreasonable. Stakeholders asserted, among other things, that FERC ignored certain evidence suggesting inadequate capacity prices would lead to near-term reliability problems; FERC disagreed, restating the evidence and arguments initially presented in the complaint, and explaining that based on the evidence presented it did not find CAISO’s resource adequacy regime unjust and unreasonable. In its order denying rehearing, FERC weighed in (again) on low capacity prices and reliability concerns in California, as well as the scope of its section 206 authority.     
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On October 2, 2019, revisions to the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) Membership Agreement went into effect without an order, as FERC lacked a quorum to rule on SPP’s proposal due to Commissioner Richard Glick’s ongoing recusal in certain proceedings at FERC (see October 3, 2019 edition of the WER). SPP’s filing on August 2, 2019 proposed new definitions for the terms Load Serving Entity (“LSE”) and non-LSE to its Membership Agreement. A joint statement from Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee indicated that they would have accepted the revisions as requested.   

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On September 27, 2019, FERC approved CAISO tariff revisions to its voluntary Capacity Procurement Mechanism (“CPM”) and mandatory Reliability-Must-Run (“RMR”) framework such that all backstop procurement from resources that would otherwise retire or mothball will be addressed through CAISO’s RMR provisions. While FERC has traditionally considered RMR contracts as measures of last resort, FERC found it just and reasonable for CAISO to expand its use of such contracts to address evolving operational needs due, in part, to the increased penetration of variable energy resources in California. Commissioner Glick partially dissented, arguing that the approved tariff changes essentially provide CAISO “unchecked authority” to enter into out-of-market contracts to meet its resource adequacy needs.
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On September 16, 2019, FERC accepted revisions to the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) tariff that: (1) establish a process by which existing capacity sellers can request removal of their capacity resource’s status; and (2) revise the process for must-offer exceptions due to an existing seller’s physical inability to meet its capacity requirements. The changes clarify how existing capacity resources may, under certain circumstances, effectively elect to “opt out” of PJM’s annual capacity auctions (termed Based Residual Auctions, or “BRAs”).
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On September 19, 2019, FERC proposed substantial revisions to its Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) regulations.  If adopted, the package of reforms proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) would: (1) allow states more flexibility to incorporate competitive forces when setting avoided cost rates for Qualifying Facilities (“QFs”), (2) modify the “one-mile rule,” (3) reduce the size threshold for the rebuttable presumption about QFs’ ability to access markets, (4) provide clarity on establishing a legally enforceable obligation (“LEO”), and (5) establish a simplified process to challenge a project’s QF status.  FERC requested comments on a number of proposals, which are due 60 days from publication of the NOPR in the Federal Register.
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Summary of NOPR

On September 19, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) proposing to revise its regulations implementing Sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) in light of changes in the energy industry since 1978.[1]
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On August 30, 2019, FERC instituted a section 206 proceeding to require PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to revise its Amended and Restated Operating Agreement (the “PJM Operating Agreement”) in light of a recent reversal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the “D.C. Circuit”).  In the new section 206 proceeding, FERC is requiring PJM to revise the PJM Operating Agreement to include projects needed solely to address Form No. 715 local planning criteria in PJM’s competitive proposal process, or to show cause why such revisions are not required.  In a concurrent order on remand, FERC also rejected revisions to the PJM Transmission Owner Tariff that had previously been amended to clarify that 100 percent of the costs for projects that are included in the PJM Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (“RTEP”) solely to address individual transmission owner Form No. 715 local planning criteria should be allocated to the transmission owner’s transmission zone.  FERC expects to issue a final order on the section 206 proceeding within 180 days.
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On August 28, 2019, FERC found on voluntary remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“New York DEC”) waived its authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to either issue or deny Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC (“Constitution”) a water quality certificate for a proposed 125-mile pipeline project from that would stretch from Pennsylvania to New York (“Project”).  Based on the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Hoopa Valley Tribe v. FERC (“Hoopa Valley”) (see April 24, 2019 edition of the WER), FERC concluded that Constitution’s agreement with the New York DEC to withdraw and resubmit CWA section 401 certification applications did not restart the one-year statutory deadline for the New York DEC to act on Constitution’s application.
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