On October 30, 2019, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce held a hearing in furtherance of its development of comprehensive climate legislation focused on reaching a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050.  John Bear, the Chief Executive Officer of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) testified at the hearing while Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) and PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) provided input in response to an earlier request from the Committee. The three Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) generally reported increases in both renewable and distributed generation in their regions over the past several years, highlighting the operational and reliability challenges that can come along with the growing prevalence of both. The RTOs also recognized the widely divergent state decarbonization policies and the associated impacts to the regional wholesale markets.
Continue Reading

On September 27, 2019, FERC approved CAISO tariff revisions to its voluntary Capacity Procurement Mechanism (“CPM”) and mandatory Reliability-Must-Run (“RMR”) framework such that all backstop procurement from resources that would otherwise retire or mothball will be addressed through CAISO’s RMR provisions. While FERC has traditionally considered RMR contracts as measures of last resort, FERC found it just and reasonable for CAISO to expand its use of such contracts to address evolving operational needs due, in part, to the increased penetration of variable energy resources in California. Commissioner Glick partially dissented, arguing that the approved tariff changes essentially provide CAISO “unchecked authority” to enter into out-of-market contracts to meet its resource adequacy needs.
Continue Reading

On September 19, 2019, FERC granted a petition for declaratory order by the New England Ratepayers Association (“New England Ratepayers”), which asked FERC to find that a New Hampshire statute, Senate Bill 365 (“SB 365”), mandating a purchase price for wholesale sales of certain biomass and waste generators in the state, is preempted by the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and violates section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”).
Continue Reading

On June 5, 2019, FERC revoked the self-certification for qualifying facility (“QF”) status of Eco Green Generation LLC’s (“Eco Green”) hybrid power generation facility (the “Facility”) located in and around Fairbanks, Alaska.  In doing so, FERC found that the Facility—which consists of a wind farm and twenty duel-fueled renewable diesel and propane engines intended to firm the energy generated by the wind farm—does not meet the criteria for a small power production QF or a cogeneration QF.
Continue Reading

On April 18, 2019, FERC granted Sunrun, Inc.’s petition for declaratory order and request for waiver of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”) Qualified Facility (“QF”) certification requirements for certain of its residential solar photovoltaic (“PV”) systems.  Specifically, FERC granted Sunrun limited waivers of: (1) the QF certification requirement for Sunrun-financed residential rooftop solar PV systems under 20 kW where such systems, though separately interconnected, may aggregate to over 1 MW within a one-mile radius; and (2) the requirement in Item 8a of the QF self-certification Form No. 556 to identify related PV systems of 20 kW or less located within a one mile radius.  FERC’s order noted its intention to ease administrative burdens on both Sunrun and itself, and affirmed that certain certification filing exemptions available to QFs under 1 MW can persist as Sunrun expands and its financed PV systems aggregate to over 1 MW within a one-mile radius.
Continue Reading

On March 21, 2019, the Commission issued a proposed order directing two wind energy generators, Cedar Creek Wind Energy, LLC (“Cedar Creek”) and Cedar Creek II, LLC (“Cedar Creek II”) (collectively the “Cedar Creek Entities”) to provide interconnection and transmission service to a proposed wind project, Mountain Breeze Wind, LLC (“Mountain Breeze”) across jointly-owned interconnection customer facilities (“ICIF”) to the Public Service Company of Colorado (“PSCo”) transmission system.  Although Cedar Creek II sought to dismiss the matter as an impermissible attempt by Mountain Breeze to acquire an ownership interest in the ICIF outside of a Federal Power Act (“FPA”) Section 203 or Section 205 proceeding, FERC rejected this characterization and instead found narrowly that Mountain Breeze had properly filed an application for Commission-ordered service under FPA Sections 210 and 211.  FERC directed the parties to attempt to reach an agreement on the terms and conditions for interconnection and transmission service, or a separate order prescribing such terms and conditions would be issued.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

On January 29, FERC issued an order accepting revisions to ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) Competitive Auctions with Sponsored Policy Resources (“CASPR”) program, the ISO-NE’s mechanism to integrate state-sponsored generation resources (“Sponsored Policy Resources”) that might otherwise suppress prices in its Forward Capacity Market.  The order addressed the contested test price mechanism in detail, ultimately accepting it as a just and reasonable modification to ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”) design.  In so doing, FERC’s order permits ISO-NE to bar capacity resources from participating in the FCA secondary auction if those resources bid capacity into the FCA primary action at a price below the ISO-NE’s assessment of their going-forward costs.  FERC’s order drew a dissent from Commissioner Glick, who argued that the test price mechanism had not been shown to be just and reasonable.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading