On January 9, 2018, several state Attorneys General, state agencies, and state consumer advocates (“State Advocates”) sent a joint letter to the FERC Commissioners requesting that FERC open an investigation into the continued justness and reasonableness of FERC-jurisdictional electric and natural gas utilities’ (“Public Utilities”) rates considering the recent reduction in the federal corporate income tax rate.  The State Advocates further urged FERC to promptly adjust the revenue requirements of such Public Utilities to prevent utility customers across the nation from overpaying for service.  Continue Reading Multiple States Ask FERC to Adjust Utility and Pipeline Rates due to Tax Reform Bill

On December 7, 2017, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued a report summarizing its review of FERC’s oversight of the nation’s four regional capacity markets.  The GAO found generally that “FERC has not fully assessed the overall performance of capacity markets,” and the agency recommends that FERC improve data quality, use consistent metrics reported through standardized definitions, and establish goals, performance metrics, and risk tolerance levels for capacity markets.  The report comes at a time when FERC is considering significant capacity market-related issues, including the Department of Energy-initiated “Grid Reliability and Resilience Pricing” docket (see October 2, 2017 Edition of the WER), and reliability-focused pricing reforms from the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (see November 21, 2017 edition of the WER). Continue Reading Government Accountability Office Urges FERC to Improve Data Collection and Assessment of Capacity Market Performance

On December 7, 2017, Kevin McIntyre was sworn in as FERC Chairman.  The addition of Chairman McIntyre now completes a full, five-member Commission.  On the same day, Chairman McIntyre requested a 30-day extension of the deadline for FERC to act on Department of Energy (“DOE”) Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed rulemaking concerning grid resiliency pricing. Continue Reading McIntyre Sworn in as FERC Chairman, Requests Extension to Address DOE NOPR

On November 29, 2017, Richard Glick was sworn in as the latest FERC Commissioner.  Following his nomination for the position by President Trump in August, Commissioner Glick was confirmed by the Senate on November 2, 2017 (see November 7, 2017 edition of the WER).  Commissioner Glick was previously the Democratic General Counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Commissioner Glick will serve the remainder of a term ending in June 2022.  Commissioner Glick will serve alongside current FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Robert Powelson.  The swearing-in of Commissioner Glick brings FERC’s Commission one step closer to a full five-member Commission.  The Senate has confirmed Kevin McIntyre to fill the last seat on the Commission, but he has not yet been sworn in.

On October 31, 2017, FERC accepted proposed revisions to the ISO New England, Inc. (“ISO-NE”) Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) to incorporate a methodology for interconnection request cluster studies, which were filed by ISO-NE, the New England Power Pool Participants Committee, and the Participating Transmission Owners Administrative Committee on behalf of the Participating Transmission Owners (collectively, the “Filing Parties”).  Under the new revisions, which became effective on November 1, 2017, interconnection requests for resources located in the same electrical part of the ISO-NE system and that meet certain other criteria, will be studied together, as opposed to individually.  As part of the stakeholder discussions preceding the filing, ISO-NE developed a strategic infrastructure study to identify the transmission upgrades needed to interconnect remotely-located wind resources in Maine, which will serve as the first cluster study to proceed under the newly-accepted methodology. Continue Reading FERC Accepts ISO-NE Methodology for Interconnection Cluster Studies

On November 2, 2017, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to join FERC.  McIntyre will serve as Chairman once he is officially sworn in.  Together, McIntyre and Glick will fill the five-member Commission board for the first time since October 2015. Continue Reading Senate Confirms McIntyre, Glick to FERC, Filling Remaining Commissioner Seats

On October 4, 2017, FERC issued two separate orders clarifying its jurisdiction under sections 203 and 205 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) related to certain project development activities.  In Ad Hoc Renewable Energy Financing Group, FERC granted a petition for declaratory order and confirmed that certain tax equity interests in public utilities do not constitute “voting securities” for purposes of FPA section 203 and therefore do not require prior FERC approval.  Separately, in ALLETE, Inc., FERC disclaimed jurisdiction under FPA section 205 over certain pre-construction activities and thereby found that ALLETE, Inc. did not need to file three pre-construction agreements with the agency.  Continue Reading FERC Issues Orders Clarifying Jurisdiction Over Specific Project Development Activities

On September 27, 2017, U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced Senate Bill 1860: A bill to amend section 203 of the Federal Power Act (the “FPA”).  The legislation, dubbed “The Parity Across Reviews Act” (the “Act”), would amend section 203(a)(1)(B) to add a $10 million threshold to the requirement to seek FERC approval prior to a public utility acquiring FERC-jurisdictional facilities.  Additionally, for transactions with a value greater than $1 million, but less than the newly-proposed $10 million threshold, the Act requires FERC to promulgate a rule, within 180 days of the enactment of the Act, that would require a public utility to notify FERC within 30 days of consummating such an acquisition.  Continue Reading Senate Bill Proposed to Add Monetary Threshold to FPA Section 203 Prior Approval Requirement for Facility Acquisitions

On August 10, 2017, Robert Powelson was officially sworn-in as a FERC Commissioner, restoring the three-Commissioner quorum necessary for FERC to resume regular business and vote on matters before it.  Commissioner Powelson joins Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, who was sworn in on August 8, 2017, and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur.  On the same day as Commissioner Powelson’s swearing-in, President Trump named Commissioner Chatterjee to be Chairman until one of the remaining FERC Commissioner nominees, Kevin McIntyre, is confirmed by the Senate and sworn in. Continue Reading FERC Quorum Restored Following the Swearing-in of Commissioner Powelson; Commissioner Chatterjee Named Interim Chairman

On the evening of August 3, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, two of President Donald Trump’s nominees to join Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur as FERC Commissioners.  Once Chatterjee and Powelson are officially sworn in at the Commission, the quorum that has been lacking since former Chairman Norman Bay resigned earlier this year will be restored, enabling the Commission to vote on matters before it.  On September 7, 2017, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources also is scheduled to consider the nominations of Richard Glick and Kevin McIntyre—the final two nominees for the five-member Commission whose names the White House sent to the Senate in August. Continue Reading FERC Quorum Soon to Be Restored as Senate Confirms Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to Serve as Commissioners