On December 6 and December 18, 2018, various environmental groups filed a motion and comments with FERC requesting that Commissioner Bernard McNamee recuse himself from FERC’s two ongoing grid resiliency proceedings.  The groups argued that because Commissioner McNamee represented the Department of Energy (“DOE”) when the agency proposed compensating “fuel-secure” units for their contribution to the resilience of the electrical grid, recusal is appropriate because he is already a party to the proceedings, and in any event, may have already “prejudged” central matters of law and fact relevant to those dockets.
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On December 18, 2018, FERC eliminated the requirement for hydroelectric project licensees to file Form 80, which solicited information on the use and development of recreation facilities at FERC-licensed hydropower projects.  FERC also revised Sections 8.1 and 8.2 of its regulations to (1) modernize licensee public notice practice, (2) clarify recreational signage requirements, and (3) provide flexibility to assist licensees’ compliance with these requirements.  The Final Rule will go into effect 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
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On December 11, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of the Army (together, “Agencies”) released their much-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Proposed Rule”), which if adopted would scale back the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by narrowing the definition of “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) to include only those waters that are oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands, and their “naturally occurring surface water channels.”  The practical implications of the Proposed Rule for hydropower project owners and energy project developers are that ephemeral streams and many ponds and ditches used in agricultural, industrial, and construction activities would no longer be within the jurisdictional reach of the CWA, alleviating the requirement for and uncertainty surrounding permitting requirements and related mitigation measures.
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On November 15, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to implement Public Law No. 115-247, which amended section 203 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) to clarify that FERC authorization is only required for mergers or consolidations valued at more than $10 million.  In addition, in accordance with the new law’s requirements, FERC proposes that transactions that are valued at $10 million or less, but more than $1 million, would only be subject to a notification requirement.

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On November 15, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) addressing the effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”), which lowered the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, on accumulated deferred income tax (“ADIT”) balances. Specifically, FERC proposed to require transmission companies to remove excess ADIT or add deficient ADIT to their rate bases. In addition, FERC issued a policy statement providing accounting and ratemaking guidance related to the treatment of ADIT (“Policy Statement”).
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On October 31, 2018, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee submitted comments (“October 31 Comments”) on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) proposed rule, the Affordable Clean Energy rule (“ACE Rule”).  If approved, the ACE Rule would implement new regulations for states to develop plans to reduce Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) emissions from certain existing Electric Utility Generating Units.  Chairman Chatterjee’s comments generally supported the ACE Rule.
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On July 18, 2018, FERC affirmed its Revised Policy Statement on Treatment of Income Taxes (“Revised Policy Statement”), where FERC stated that it will generally not permit master-limited partnerships (“MLPs”) to recover income tax allowance in their cost of service.  In doing so, FERC dismissed requests for clarification and rehearing of its Revised Policy Statement, reiterating that tax pass-through entities (including MLPs) that recover an income tax allowance in addition to a return on equity (“ROE”) based on the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) methodology double recover investors’ tax costs.  FERC did however explain that while pass-through entities may eliminate previously-accumulated sums of accumulated deferred income tax (“ADIT”) from their cost of service, they did not need to refund those ADIT balances to ratepayers. 
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On July 18, 2018, FERC issued Order No. 849, finalizing its procedures and regulations regarding the effect of reduced corporate income taxes on certain natural gas pipelines and their rates at FERC.  Notably, Order No. 849 requires interstate natural gas pipelines to submit “FERC Form No. 501-G,” an abbreviated cost and revenue study designed to illustrate the effect of reduced corporate tax rates, which FERC might then use to determine whether the pipeline’s rates may be unjust and unreasonable under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”). 
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On July 19, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) that would update FERC’s regulations regarding interlocking positions.  According to the NOPR, the proposed revisions to parts 45 and 46 of the Commission’s regulations aim to “reflect statutory changes to the circumstances in which an applicant who would otherwise require Commission authorization to hold an interlocking position need not do so.”
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On May 17, 2018, FERC issued Order No. 833-A wherein it denied rehearing of Order No. 833 and granted, in part, Edison Electric Institute’s (“EEI”) request for clarification of Order No. 833.  Order No. 833 amended FERC’s regulations regarding Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (“CEII”), as directed by the FAST Act.  The FAST Act, signed into law on December 4, 2015, added section 215A to the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) to improve the security and resilience of energy infrastructure in the face of emergencies.  The FAST Act also directed FERC to issue regulations on the procedures for designating certain material as CEII, provided for the imposition of sanctions on any party who knowingly discloses CEII, and authorized the voluntary sharing of CEII material.
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