On October 1, 2018, FERC released its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022.  FERC affirmed its mission of maintaining reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy for consumers by setting three primary goals: (1) ensuring that rates, terms, and conditions are just, reasonable, and not unduly discriminatory or preferential; (2) promoting the development of safe, reliable, and efficient energy infrastructure that serves the public interest through the review of natural gas and hydropower infrastructure proposals; and (3) managing resourcing to support its mission through organizational excellence.
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On October 3, 3018, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Bernard L. McNamee to fill the vacant seat on FERC, for the term expiring June 30, 2020, resulting from Commissioner Robert Powelson’s resignation. If nominated, confirmed, and sworn in, Mr. McNamee would restore the Republican majority among FERC Commissioners.

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On September 4, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, two bills related to FERC’s authority under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).  One bill, S. 186, would allow challenges to rate changes that would automatically go into effect when FERC is deadlocked.  The other bill, H.R. 1109, changes the monetary thresholds for determining when a proposed merger or acquisition requires FERC approval.
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On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States (“Supreme Court”) held that the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) are “Officers of the United States” whose appointment must meet the requirements of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause.  Accordingly, pursuant to the Appointments Clause, the SEC ALJs must be appointed by the SEC itself, as the “Head of the Department.”  It is unclear whether this impacts any of the current ALJs at FERC. 
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On June 12, 2018, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hosted all five FERC Commissioners for an oversight hearing to discuss topics that included the agency’s approach to changes in the makeup of generating plants on the bulk power system and the efficiency of its energy infrastructure permitting processes.
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On March 6, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC’s (“Duke Energy”) petition for review of FERC’s grant of a forty-year license for the Catawba-Wateree Project (“Project”).  FERC had found that, despite Duke Energy’s requested fifty-year term for the license renewal, the measures required by FERC in issuing the license were only “moderate,” and thus warranted the forty-year term.  Duke Energy argued that FERC acted arbitrarily and capriciously by not granting the fifty-year license.  The D.C. Circuit deferred to FERC’s analysis in granting a forty-year license.
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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. 
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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).
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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.
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