On April 18, 2019, FERC partially granted a complaint American Wind Energy Association and the Wind Coalition filed against the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”), alleging that the membership exit fee provisions, as applied to entities who are not transmission owners, violated the cost causation principle and resulted in unduly discriminatory rates (the “Complaint”).  FERC found that SPP’s membership exit fee is unjust and unreasonable because it creates a barrier to SPP membership for non-transmission owners and appears to be excessive. Accordingly, FERC directed SPP to eliminate the membership exit fee for non-transmission owners.

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On March 29, 2019, FERC issued an order accepting revisions to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.’s (“MISO”) Open Access Transmission, Energy, and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) to enhance the scheduling of Generator Planned Outages—i.e., the scheduled removal of a generator from service for inspection, maintenance, or repair.  While MISO previously managed planned outages through voluntary rescheduling, the Tariff revisions at issue: 1) impose penalties for outages scheduled during low capacity margin, high risk periods, and 2) assist generators in scheduling outages by improving the transparency and quality of generator outage information through MISO’s maintenance margin tool. In accepting MISO’s proposal, FERC concluded that these measures would address recent increases in emergency events by incenting generators to schedule planned outages in advance, and by improving MISO’s ability to coordinate these outages to avoid emergency events.
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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 6, 2019, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) declined to reconsider an earlier order refusing to enforce a newly-enacted mandatory biomass power purchase obligation, and associated subsidy scheme. Although the New Hampshire PUC ruled narrowly in both decisions, the law subsidizing state biomass generators at above-market rates is the latest in a series of recent state actions pushing the jurisdictional line between FERC and state authority (see, e.g., April 27, 2016 edition of the WER; September 25, 2018 edition of the WER; October 3, 2018 edition of the WER).  As of this writing, challenges to the law remain pending at FERC.
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On December 14, 2018, Vineyard Wind, LLC (“Vineyard Wind”) filed a Petition with FERC to waive the pro-rata proration requirements of the ISO New England, Inc. (“ISO-NE”) Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) so that Vineyard Wind could participate in the upcoming ISO-NE Forward Capacity Auction 13 (“Auction 13”) as a Renewable Technology Resource (“RTR”).  Because time was of the essence, Vineyard Wind asked FERC to render an expedited decision no later than January 29, 2019.  FERC took no action on the Petition, however, and as of this writing, has also not taken any action on Vineyard Wind’s subsequent Emergency Motion for relief, rendering it all but certain that Vineyard Wind will be unable to participate in Auction 13.
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On December 3, 2018, FERC accepted ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) proposed temporary revisions to its Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) designed to address fuel security by a 2-1 vote.  Among other things, the order enables ISO-NE to enter into cost-of service agreements with certain retiring generators that are deemed necessary for regional fuel security and reliability.  Commissioner McIntyre did not participate and Commissioner Glick issued a separate concurring opinion.  Of particular note was the dissenting opinion filed by Chairman Neil Chatterjee.
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On November 6, 2018, clean energy ballot initiatives failed in several states.  In particular, voters rejected Arizona’s 50 percent renewable energy mandate, Washington’s fee on carbon emissions, Colorado’s limits on oil and gas drilling and Nevada’s retail choice initiative.  However, voters passed Nevada’s 50 percent renewable energy portfolio.
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On November 5, 2018, the American Wind Energy Association and the Wind Coalition (together, the “Wind Developers”) filed a complaint against Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) regarding SPP’s Bylaws and Membership Agreement.  Specifically, the Wind Developers object to the sections of the Bylaws and Membership Agreement which impose financial obligations (“exit fees”) on independent power producers (“IPPs”), other comparable non-transmission owners (“non-TOs”), and non-load-serving entities (“non-LSEs”).  The Wind Developers argue that the exit fee violates cost causation principles, may pose a barrier to entry into SPP to vote on critical issues, directly affects jurisdictional rates, and that therefore, the exit fee is unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory.
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On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) affirmed FERC’s 2015 and 2016 orders denying challenges to ISO New England’s (“ISO-NE”) ninth and tenth Forward Capacity Auctions (“FCA 9” and “FCA 10”) and approving the results of those auctions.  The D.C. Circuit found that petitioners, Utility Workers Union of America Local 464 and its President, Robert Clark, failed to establish standing to challenge the FERC orders approving the results of FCA 9 and FCA 10.
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