On February 20, 2020, FERC issued four separate orders with significant impacts on renewable and storage resources under the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) buyer-side mitigation (“BSM”) rules (collectively, “February 20 Orders”). BSM rules serve some of the same purposes as PJM’s Minimum Offer Price Rule or “MOPR.” While the orders explicitly limit or reject proposed renewable and storage exemptions, the orders are equally important for what they do not do. Focused on the cases and records before it, FERC declined to extend BSM to apply outside of the so-called Mitigated Capacity Zones or “MCZs” (New York City, or Zone J, and the Lower Hudson Valley, or Zones G through J). Consequently, BSM still does NOT apply to any units, including renewable, storage or nuclear units, outside of these MCZs. FERC also directed NYISO to better tailor a renewable exemption specific to the MCZs. The extent to which this will help the new development of offshore wind in New York remains to be seen.  In dissenting opinions, Commissioner Richard Glick argued, among other things, that the majority’s overall approach to BSM will protect incumbent generators while impeding state clean energy policies.
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On February 5, 2020, FERC denied a request from demand-side energy management company Enerwise Global Technologies, Inc. d/b/a CPower (“CPower”) for a one-time waiver of ISO New England, Inc’s (“ISO-NE”) Market Rule 1 in order to permit CPower’s summer-only demand capacity distributed generation resources, for which it elected Renewable Technology Resource (“RTR”) treatment, to participate in ISO-NE’s fourteenth Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA 14”) and the substitution auction. CPower presented two alternative options for waiver, arguing that an unintended interaction between ISO-NE’s RTR and “composite offer” Tariff provisions caused its resources to be excluded from FCA 14 and the substitution auction. FERC denied CPower’s request, even though ISO-NE supported one of the alternatives that CPower presented. Commissioner Richard Glick dissented in part, explaining that he also would have granted one of CPower’s proffered waiver options.
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On February 3, 2020, FERC denied a waiver request filed by Genbright LLC (“Genbright”) seeking a one-time limited waiver of Market Rule 1 in the ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) to allow fourteen distributed energy resource projects (the “DER Projects”) to participate in the fourteenth ISO-NE Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA 14”).  According to Genbright, the DER Projects did not qualify to participate in this year’s capacity auction because Genbright sought interconnection under a state-administered interconnection process rather than the FERC jurisdictional interconnection options specified in the ISO-NE Tariff, and Genbright argued that the interconnected utility should have alerted Genbright of the FERC-jurisdictional status of its interconnections.  In denying the request, FERC found that granting waiver would inappropriately allow Genbright to avoid ISO-NE’s complex interconnection study process.
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On January 31, 2020, FERC rejected Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposed Tariff revisions to eliminate SPP’s current policy of offering transmission revenue credits as reimbursement for certain transmission network upgrades, and to instead provide term- and value-limited transmission congestion rights for all such upgrades. Under SPP’s proposal, a party that funds certain network upgrades would receive incremental transmission congestion rights for a limited term of up to twenty years or until the party that sponsored the upgrade recovered their costs, with interest. FERC held that this cap on recovery would disincentivize construction of merchant transmission projects, and rejected SPP’s proposal without prejudice to SPP submitting a revised proposal that does not impose a cap on the term and value of the incremental transmission congestion rights.
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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 29, 2020, thirty-six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives (“Representatives”) signed a letter expressing their concern about FERC’s December 19, 2019 Order (“Order”) directing PJM Interconnection, L.L.C (“PJM”) to apply its Minimum Offer Price Rule (“MOPR”) to all state-subsidized capacity resources (see December 20, 2019 edition of the WER). According to the Representatives, the Order “nullif[ies]” state energy preferences, prohibits states from pursuing their policy goals, increases consumer costs by forcing them to buy duplicative capacity, runs contrary to FERC’s duty to ensure energy markets are truly competitive, and places deregulated markets at risk. The Representatives requested that the Commission provide a response to each concern discussed in the letter.

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On January 30, 2020, FERC accepted revisions to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) planning resource auction participation rules for resources expecting extended outages during the planning year.  FERC simultaneously dismissed as moot an earlier-filed complaint by Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative (“Wolverine”) that alleged MISO’s Open Access Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserves Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) was unjust and unreasonable because it allowed resources with MISO-approved outages for the entire planning year to participate in the resource auction.
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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 23, 2020, FERC concluded that a “pricing and dispatch mismatch problem” needs to be resolved before PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) can revise the fast-start provisions in its Tariff, as previously directed by FERC on April 18, 2019.  Because PJM currently has a stakeholder process addressing the pricing and dispatch mismatch, FERC placed PJM’s fast-start pricing filing in abeyance until July 31, 2020 to allow PJM and its stakeholders the opportunity to fully consider any necessary changes. 
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On January 14, 2019, FERC issued a letter order accepting, as of October 15, 2019, Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) proposal to implement a “Fast First” Automatic Generation Control (“AGC”) framework that, as MISO argues, would deploy fast-ramping generation resources more efficiently.  MISO explained that the Fast First AGC framework would better utilize and incentivize fast-ramping resources, including energy storage resources (“ESRs”), for frequency regulation.  MISO stated that, with increased supply-side volatility on its system due to integration of intermittent renewable resources, new AGC signals were needed for better system control and to better utilize the fast response rate of fast-ramping resources.
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