On October 18, 2018, in Order No. 850, the Commission approved new Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards submitted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) in response to the Commission’s directive in Order No. 829.  The new CIP Reliability Standards require responsible entities to take additional actions to address cybersecurity risks associated with the supply chain for Bulk Electric System (“BES”) Cyber Systems.  FERC directed NERC to submit modifications to the new CIP Reliability Standards within 24 months of the effective date of its order, which is 60 days after the order’s publication in the Federal Register. Continue Reading FERC Approves Supply Chain Risk Reliability Standards

On September 12, 2018, FERC announced the initiation of a joint inquiry with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) into a cold weather event that occurred in the Midwest and part of the South Central U.S. mid-January of this year.  Specifically, on January 17, 2018, regional operators in the midwest and south central United States issued emergency appeals for electricity conservation after an atypical forecast in electricity demand due to unusually cold temperatures.  As a result, there were reports of multiple forced generation outages, voltage deviations, and near-overloads during peak operations. Continue Reading FERC, NERC Announce Inquiry into January 2018 Cold Weather Event

On July 13, 2018, pursuant to section 205 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), FERC accepted and set for hearing a cost-of-service agreement between Constellation Mystic Power, LLC (“Mystic”), Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”), and ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) providing cost-of-service compensation to Mystic for continued operation of two gas-fired generating units (“Mystic 8 and 9”) to ensure fuel security in New England.  Commissioners Powelson and Glick dissented. Continue Reading FERC Accepts and Sets for Hearing Cost-of-Service Compensation Agreement

On July 2, 2018, FERC denied ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) request for waiver of its Transmission, Markets, and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) and instituted a Federal Power Act (“FPA”) section 206 proceeding because, according to FERC, the Tariff may be unjust and unreasonable.  Specifically, ISO-NE requested waiver of certain provisions in its Tariff in order to delay the retirement of two generating units owned by Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”) for fuel security purposes.  FERC denied the waiver request and preliminarily found that the Tariff did not sufficiently address specific regional fuel security concerns.  Continue Reading FERC Finds ISO-NE’s Tariff May Not Adequately Address Fuel Security Concerns

Three recent FERC staff decisions (“Decisions”) confirm that, for purposes of establishing the mandatory licensing requirements under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), groundwater is not a “non-navigable Commerce Clause stream.”  Thus, a hydropower project—and particularly a closed-loop pumped storage project—that uses only groundwater as its water source will not require FERC licensing if the project does not trigger other jurisdictional tests under the FPA. Continue Reading FERC Confirms No Licensing Requirement for Certain Groundwater-Only Pumped Storage Projects

On May 17, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) in which it proposed to approve Reliability Standard TPL-007-2 (Transmission System Planned Performance for Geomagnetic Disturbance Events) submitted by the North American Electric Corporation (“NERC”).  Geomagnetic disturbance (“GMD”) events result from charged particles ejected from the sun that interact with and cause changes in the earth’s magnetic fields, impacting flows on electric power systems and potentially causing voltage instability and equipment failure. Continue Reading FERC Proposes Revisions to Geomagnetic Disturbance Reliability Standard

On May 4, 2018, FERC approved the joint petition filed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), Midwest Reliability Organization (“MRO”), and SERC Reliability Corporation (“SERC”) (collectively “Petitioners”) requesting FERC approvals for the dissolution of the Southwest Power Pool Regional Entity (“SPP RE”), and the transfer of the registered entities within the SPP RE footprint to MRO and SERC (“Joint Petition”). Continue Reading FERC Approves of SPP Regional Entity Dissolution and Registered Entity Transfer to SERC, MRO

On May 1, 2018, FERC staff held a technical conference on local transmission planning within the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) footprint.  The conference comes at a time when two California utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) and Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”), have transmission planning issues before the Commission, and also following FERC’s recent order addressing compliance with Order No. 890 in the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) region (see February 20, 2018 edition of the WER). Continue Reading FERC Holds Technical Conference on Local Transmission Planning Issues in CAISO Amid Concerns of Order No. 890 Compliance

On May 2, 2018, staff from FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), and the NERC Regional Entities (the “Joint Study Team”), issued a joint report titled “FERC-NERC-Regional Entity Joint Review of Restoration and Recovery Plans” (“Joint Report”), which evaluated blackstart resources and planning by a representative sample of nine volunteer utilities registered with NERC (the “Participants”).  According to the Joint Report, the Participants verified that they currently have sufficient blackstart resources in their system restoration plans, as well as comprehensive strategies for mitigating against loss of any additional blackstart resources going forward.  The Joint Report also made a number of recommendations for users, owners, or operators of the bulk-power system (“Registered Entities”) and others responsible for system restoration.

Continue Reading FERC, NERC, and Regional Entity Staff Issue Joint Report on Registered Entity Restoration and Recovery Plans