On March 19, 2020, FERC authorized Jordan Cove Energy Project L.P.’s (“Jordan Cove”) Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 3 proposal to site, construct, and operate a liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) export terminal in Coos County, Oregon (“Terminal”) and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, LP’s (“Pacific Connector”) application under section 7(c) of the NGA and Parts 157 and 284 of FERC’s regulations that would allow it to construct and operate an interstate natural gas pipeline system connected to the Terminal (“Pacific Connector Pipeline”). The decision prompted a dissent from Commissioner Richard Glick, who argued that the majority’s decision did not adequately consider the impacts that the Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline will have on climate change and other environmental concerns.
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On March 6, 2020, FERC rejected ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) and the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s proposed revisions to the ISO-NE Tariff intended to eliminate ISO-NE’s ability to retain a resource for local transmission reliability needs if that resource has been previously retained for fuel security purposes (“Proposed Tariff Revisions”). FERC found that the Tariff Revisions were not just and reasonable because they would limit ISO-NE’s ability to address potential future transmission reliability issues without alternative transmission solutions yet being in place.
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On March 4, 2020, FERC denied rehearing of its prior order rejecting the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (“NJBPU”) complaint alleging unjust and unreasonable cost allocations for the Bergen-Linden Corridor transmission project (“BLC Project”). FERC found that it had already fully addressed the issues raised in the original complaint and that there was no need for an evidentiary hearing to evaluate disputed facts related to the BLC Project.
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On February 12, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued a notice stating that it will investigate and report on the potential economic effects of renewable energy commitments, including the role of renewable energy imports, in Massachusetts and the broader New England region as requested by the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives (“Committee”). The ITC intends to send the report to the Committee by January 25, 2021.
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On February 14, 2020, FERC rejected ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) and the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s (together with ISO-NE, the “Filing Parties”) proposed revisions to the ISO-NE tariff intended to allow for the termination of ISO-NE’s Fuel Security Reliability Retention Mechanism (“Fuel Security Mechanism”) at the end of Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”) 14 – one year earlier than currently provided in the tariff. The Fuel Security Mechanism allows ISO-NE to retain resources for fuel security that seek to retire in FCAs 13, 14, or 15 and was initially implemented following ISO-NE’s 2018 petition for waiver seeking to retain two retiring Mystic Units through FCA 15 (“Mystic Units”). FERC rejected the filing because ISO-NE had not yet submitted its proposed long-term solutions to address fuel security concerns and because it found that that ISO-NE’s proposed interim solutions were inadequate. FERC Commissioner Richard Glick dissented from the order, arguing the majority lacked a reasoned basis to find that ISO-NE’s filing was not just and reasonable.
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On January 27, 2020, FERC petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”) for rehearing en banc of that court’s split (2-1) decision finding that the bankruptcy court’s concurrent jurisdiction is paramount, and that therefore, FERC-jurisdictional power purchase agreements may be rejected in bankruptcy without FERC review (see December 19, 2019 edition of the WER for a detailed analysis of the majority’s opinion and Judge Richard Allen Griffin’s opinion dissenting in part). This case is important because different courts have come to opposite conclusions over whether a debtor must obtain FERC authorization before it effects rejection in bankruptcy of a FERC-jurisdictional contract. This issue is also pending before the Ninth Circuit in proceedings associated with Pacific Gas & Electric’s ongoing bankruptcy proceeding.
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On January 23, 2020, FERC accepted New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) proposed revisions to its Tariffs to allow the aggregation of resources, including distributed energy resources (“DERs”), for purposes of participation in the NYISO markets. FERC found that NYISO’s proposed aggregation model (“Aggregation Participation Model”) provided a just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory framework for such participation.
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On January 9, 2020, FERC rejected Constellation Mystic Power, LLC’s (“Mystic”) proposed amendment to its cost-of-service agreement (“Mystic Agreement”) with ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) that would have provided Mystic the option to unilaterally retire Mystic Generating Station units 8 and 9 (“Mystic Generators”).  FERC found that giving Mystic the option to retire the Mystic Generators early would pose an unacceptable risk to reliability.  Commissioner Glick concurred in part and dissented in part.
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On December 2, 2019, FERC staff (“Staff”) issued its annual report (“Report”) on demand response and advanced metering, a high-level review of demand response potential in the retail and wholesale markets. In the Report, Staff highlights that: (i) advanced meters account for more than half of all meters in operation in the United States, (ii) multiple states have received approval for, or proposed, advanced meter deployment programs, (iii) many state regulators appear to support advanced meter investments, and (iv) from 2017 to 2018, there was an almost 8% increase in the overall demand response participation in wholesale markets.
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On December 3, 2019, FERC denied a challenge filed by Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (“SMECO”) challenging Potomac Electric Power Company’s (“Pepco”) balance of prepaid pension assets (“Prepaid Pension Assets”) included in Pepco’s annual transmission rate update. FERC found that SMECO did not raise any serious doubt about the prudence of the Prepaid Pension Assets and that Pepco’s inclusion of a portion of the Prepaid Pension Assets amount in its rate base was reasonable.
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