On April 10, 2019, FERC dismissed a complaint (“Complaint”) filed by RTO Insider LLC (“RTO Insider”) concerning the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s (“NEPOOL”) policies prohibiting press and non-member attendance and reporting on NEPOOL stakeholder meetings.  FERC granted NEPOOL’s Motion to Dismiss, stating that it lacked jurisdiction over the NEPOOL policies because NEPOOL is not a public utility and the policies in question do not directly affect jurisdictional rates.
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On March 29, 2019, FERC released its 2018 staff report on Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) reliability audits (“2018 CIP Report”).  The 2018 CIP Report summarizes new and previously-identified “lessons learned” from CIP audits conducted for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.  The audits evaluated whether certain users, owners, and operators of the Bulk Electric System (“BES”) – generally referred to as “registered entities” – had been complying with the FERC-approved CIP Reliability Standards during the relevant fiscal years.  FERC staff found that the audited registered entities met most of the mandatory requirements of the CIP Reliability Standards, but that there were some potential compliance infractions.  In addition, the staff summarized certain other existing practices that could improve BES security, but are not necessarily required by the CIP Reliability Standards and so therefore were only noted as recommendations in the 2018 CIP Report.
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On March 19, 2019, FERC conditionally accepted the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) proposed tariff revisions to: (1) clarify how market participants with pseudo-ties outside of MISO can use virtual transactions to align Financial Transmission Rights (“FTRs”) and transmission usage charges; and (2) reduce the administrative charges assessed to market participants with a pseudo-tie of generation or load out of MISO.
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On March 11, 2019, a U.S. district court judge in California denied FERC’s motion to withdraw the reference of Pacific Gas and Electric’s (“PG&E”) adversary proceeding from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the ongoing jurisdictional dispute between FERC and the bankruptcy court.  In his ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that removal of the case from the bankruptcy courts was neither required nor permitted because the plain language of the Bankruptcy Code is sufficient to address the questions raised in the proceeding.
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On February 25, 2019, FERC issued an order accepting proposed revisions to the ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) that would enable electric storage resources (“ESRs”) to more fully participate in ISO-NE’s markets (“Storage Revisions”).  FERC found that the Storage Revisions reduce barriers to entry for ESRs by enabling them to provide services they are capable of providing, which would enhance competition, thus helping to ensure just and reasonable rates in the ISO-NE markets.  ISO-NE submitted these changes as essentially an interim step on its road to becoming fully compliant with Order No. 841’s generic requirements regarding Regional Transmission Operators (“RTOs”) and Independent Service Operators (“ISOs”) enabling storage participation in competitive markets.
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On February 21, 2019, FERC issued a final rule (“Order No. 855”) amending Part 33 of its regulations to establish that FERC authorization for mergers or consolidations of a public utility’s jurisdictional facilities is only required when such transactions exceed a $10 million threshold.  Order No. 855 also establishes that public utilities are not required to secure FERC authorization for mergers and acquisitions that are valued between $1 million and $10 million – instead they are only required to submit a notification filing.  Order No. 855 will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
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On February 11, 2019, a group of seventeen Democrat United States Senators and Senator Bernie Sanders wrote a letter (the “2019 Letter”) to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee urging FERC to adopt a rule requiring Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) to open their markets to participation of aggregated distributed energy resources (“DERs”).
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On January 29, 2019, FERC rejected the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s (“NEPOOL”) proposed revisions to its Second Restated NEPOOL Agreement (“NEPOOL Agreement”) that would have disqualified members of the press from being eligible to become NEPOOL members.  NEPOOL argued that the proposed revisions (“NEPOOL Press Amendments”) were necessary because allowing members of the press as NEPOOL members would undermine the effectiveness of the NEPOOL stakeholder process.  FERC rejected the revisions in part because, according to FERC, NEPOOL did not show that the revisions were just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory or preferential.
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