On November 5 and 6, 2019, FERC staff held a two-day workshop at its headquarters in Washington, DC on technologies that increase the capacity, efficiency, or reliability of transmission facilities.  Panelists and FERC staff discussed technologies that are currently used in transmission planning and operations, challenges associated with the deployment of grid-enhancing technologies, and regulatory actions that might promote increased adoption of these technologies going forward. A formal notice requesting written comments will soon be issued. 
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On October 24, 2019, FERC denied Harbor Cogeneration Company, LLC’s (“Harbor”) complaint alleging that Southern California Edison Company (“SoCal Edison”) misclassified certain interconnection facilities contrary to FERC’s Order No. 2003 and violated SoCal Edison’s Transmission Owner Tariff (“TO Tariff”) in directly assigning the facility costs to Harbor without FERC “approval.” FERC denied the complaint and rejected Harbor’s request for refunds, reasoning that the charges constituted valid filed rates notwithstanding that FERC did not use the word “approve” in its delegated letter orders, and that, therefore, the charges were lawfully imposed regardless of any alleged conflicts with FERC interconnection pricing policies.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC denied Public Citizen, Inc.’s (“Public Citizen”) complaint alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) recovered improper campaign contributions and lobbying expenses through its filed rate and failed to disclose its spending on political activity. In doing so, FERC concluded that PJM could recover the expenses in question through its rates because they represent an educational, outreach, or informational function essential to PJM’s core operations and because PJM determined that such expenditures are in the collective best interest of PJM’s stakeholders.
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On October 23, 2019, FERC issued twin orders denying rehearing of the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Phase 1 and Phase 2 Revisions, which sought to resolve overlapping congestion charges on pseudo-tied generation in Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) and PJM. American Municipal Power (“AMP”) requested rehearing, arguing that FERC engaged in impermissible piecemeal ratemaking, failed to evaluate the ultimate end result of the revisions, and did not fully address overlapping congestion charges. FERC rejected AMP’s arguments, confirming that it fully considered the proposed revisions and found them just and reasonable.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC issued an order establishing an investigation under Federal Power Act Section 206 into whether ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”), PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”), and Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) (collectively, “Responding RTOs”) may be inconsistently or more expansively implementing Order No. 1000’s immediate need reliability project exemption, which allows Responding RTOs to establish immediate need reliability projects exempt from Order No. 1000’s regional transmission planning competition requirements. In the order, FERC established proceedings related to its concern, and directed the Responding RTOs to provide responses to certain questions regarding the implementation of the exemption.
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On October 17, 2019, FERC denied a complaint filed in June 2019 by Nevada Hydro Company, Inc. (“Nevada Hydro”) alleging that the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) failed to follow its Tariff requirements in studying the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project (“LEAPS”) as a transmission facility in CAISO’s 2018-2019 transmission planning process. FERC concluded that Nevada Hydro failed to demonstrate that CAISO violated its Tariff in studying LEAPS as a proposed reliability-driven transmission solution and as a proposed economic transmission project. Rather, FERC accepted CAISO’s conclusion that it could identify no reliability need for LEAPS, and that the project’s economic benefits are far outweighed by its costs. FERC’s October 17 order also explained that it found no evidence that CAISO’s treatment of LEAPS was biased by a predetermined conclusion that LEAPS is a generation asset or that storage cannot qualify as transmission. FERC went on to note that a project’s ability to provide transmission benefits does not equate to a transmission need, nor does it guarantee eligibility to recover costs through transmission rates.
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On October 4, 2019, FERC rejected without prejudice a stated rate tariff and Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”), among other filings, by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. (“Tri-State”) and its subsidiary Thermal Cogen Partnership, L.P. (“Thermal Cogen”). Tri-State, an electric cooperative previously exempt from FERC’s jurisdiction, submitted the filings in an attempt to submit to FERC regulation after Tri-State admitted Mieco, Inc., a jurisdictional public utility, to its Board of Directors. FERC concluded that Tri-State’s stated rate tariff and OATT filings were patently deficient because they failed to provide the supporting data required for FERC to assess whether the proposed rates were just and reasonable, and for potentially interested parties to determine how the rates might affect them.
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On September 30, 2019, FERC issued two orders denying requests for rehearing of orders that respectively granted Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”) and Southern California Edison Company (“SCE”) 50-basis point return-on-equity adders for their continued participation in the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) (“RTO-Participation Incentive”). PG&E requested the RTO-Participation Incentive as part of its nineteenth transmission owner tariff filing; SCE requested the RTO-Participation Incentive as part of its 2018 transmission revenue requirement filing. FERC granted both requests in two separate orders issued in 2017. The California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) and Transmission Agency of Northern California requested rehearing of both 2017 orders; the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (“SMUD”) also requested rehearing of the 2017 order granting PG&E the RTO-Participation Incentive (CAISO, CPUC and SMUD are collectively referred to as the “California Parties”). FERC’s September 30, 2019 orders denying the California Parties’ rehearing requests concluded that is appropriate to grant both PG&E and SCE the RTO-Participation Incentive because California law does not mandate that either utility participate in CAISO.
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On September 19, 2019, FERC concurrently issued two orders granting in part separate complaints filed by American Electric Power Service Corporation (“AEP”) and the City of Prescott, Arkansas (“Prescott”) finding that, to the extent loads pseudo-tied from Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) to Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) are subject to overlapping or duplicative congestion charges by both MISO and SPP, then such charges are unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory, or preferential.  On the same day, FERC also established briefing procedures (“Briefing Order”) related to the complaint orders to further investigate issues concerning potentially unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory tariff provisions, contract provisions, and/or practices that result in overlapping and/or duplicative congestion charges being imposed on pseudo-tie transactions between MISO and SPP.
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On September 19, 2019, FERC granted in part and denied in part a complaint by EDF Renewable Energy, Inc. (“EDF”) which alleged that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”), Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”), and PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Open Access Transmission Tariffs (“Tariffs”), the MISO-SPP Joint Operating Agreement (“JOA”), and the MISO-PJM JOA are unjust and unreasonable because they lack sufficient detail and transparency regarding the process each Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”) uses to coordinate with Affected Systems, i.e., other transmission systems that may be affected by a proposed generator interconnection.  FERC’s order comes after an April 2018 technical conference that explored the issues raised in EDF’s complaint as well as broader Affected Systems issues (see February 13, 2018 edition of the WER).  FERC’s September 19 order agreed that the lack of transparency in Affected System coordination creates cost uncertainty that presents a significant obstacle to the development of new generation resources, and required MISO, SPP, and PJM to memorialize their current Affected System study coordination processes in their Tariffs and JOAs.  FERC also required the RTOs to add to their Tariffs and JOAs clear references to further Affected System coordination details in business practices and other coordination documents.  However, FERC declined to initiate a generic proceeding on the Affected Systems coordination issues raised in the technical conference in regions beyond those identified in the complaint.
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