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. Continue Reading Trump Administration Releases “WOTUS” Rule Proposal

On December 7, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (“Sixth Circuit”) affirmed the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio’s (“District Court”) granting of a preliminary injunction to Nexus Gas Transmission, LLC (“Nexus”).  The preliminary injunction will allow Nexus to exercise the right of eminent domain under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) to build an interstate natural gas pipeline through parts of Ohio and Michigan.  The Sixth Circuit held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in balancing the preliminary injunction factors and in refusing to allow an evidentiary hearing on the issue. Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction, Enabling Nexus Pipeline to Exercise Right of Eminent Domain for Pipeline Construction

On December 3, 2018, FERC accepted ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) proposed temporary revisions to its Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”) designed to address fuel security by a 2-1 vote.  Among other things, the order enables ISO-NE to enter into cost-of service agreements with certain retiring generators that are deemed necessary for regional fuel security and reliability.  Commissioner McIntyre did not participate and Commissioner Glick issued a separate concurring opinion.  Of particular note was the dissenting opinion filed by Chairman Neil Chatterjee. Continue Reading A Divided FERC Approves ISO-NE’s Proposal for Regional Fuel Security

On December 6, 2018, the United States Senate confirmed Bernard L. McNamee as a FERC Commissioner.  President Donald Trump nominated McNamee to fill the vacancy left by Commissioner Robert Powelson following Powelson’s August 2018 resignation from FERC to become president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies (see October 9, 2018 edition of the WER).  McNamee was sworn in on December 11, 2018, returning FERC to its full five-member complement. Continue Reading Bernard McNamee Seated as FERC Commissioner

On December 3, 2018, several states filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) to vacate an order issued by FERC that announced a shift in policy limiting the Commission’s review of greenhouse gas impacts during pipeline permitting. Continue Reading States Chime in During D.C. Circuit Review of FERC Pipeline Permitting Policy

On December 3, 2018, FERC largely rejected a complaint filed by Monterey MA, LLC (“Monterey”) alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) improperly adjusted prices after two transmission line outage events for unauthorized reasons, and without proper notice and documentation in violation of PJM’s Tariff.  Monterey requested that FERC reinstate original prices and that changes be made to the Tariff relating to price revisions so that re-pricing events are more transparent for market participants.  FERC mostly found that Monterey’s allegations were unreasonable and thus largely denied Monterey’s complaint, including Monterrey’s request to reinstate the original market prices. Continue Reading FERC Largely Rejects Complaint Alleging PJM Improperly Adjusted Market Prices After Transmission Outages

On November 19, 2018, FERC denied a complaint filed by CXA La Paloma, LLC (“La Paloma”) requesting that FERC use its jurisdiction over resource adequacy to direct the California Independent System Operator Corp. (“CAISO”) to implement centralized capacity procurement.  FERC found that La Paloma failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that CAISO’s tariff was unjust, unreasonable, or unduly discriminatory or preferential under section 206 of the Federal Power Act. Continue Reading FERC Declines to Require New CAISO Capacity Market

On November 19, 2018, FERC accepted ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) request to terminate the capacity supply obligation (“CSO”) of the Clear River Unit 1 natural gas-fired generator (“Clear River”) for the 2021–2022 Capacity Commitment Period. In doing so, FERC found that ISO-NE had the right under its Tariff to terminate Clear River’s CSO because Clear River’s project sponsor, Invenergy Energy Management LLC (“Invenergy”), had covered Clear River’s CSO for two consecutive Capacity Commitment Periods. In the same order, FERC denied Invenergy’s request for waiver of certain provisions of ISO-NE’s Tariff related to the termination of Clear River’s CSO. Continue Reading FERC Accepts ISO New England’s Termination of Planned Generator’s Capacity Supply Obligation

On November 26, 2018, FERC partially granted the California Independent System Operator Corp. (“CAISO”) a temporary extension of two sets of tariff provisions concerning natural gas system limitations on CAISO’s system and corresponding market operations.  While FERC temporarily extended six tariff provisions related to the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility (“Aliso Canyon”) effective November 30, 2018, and December 16, 2018, as requested, it rejected CAISO’s proposal to temporarily extend the tariff revisions regarding gas price scalars. Continue Reading FERC Partially Grants CAISO Waiver of Aliso Canyon Related Tariff Provisions

On November 27, 2018, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“ENR Committee”) advanced FERC nominee Bernard McNamee to a full vote on the Senate floor.  The ENR Committee furthered Mr. McNamee’s nomination with a bipartisan vote of 13-10, with one Democrat joining the entire Republican majority on the ENR Committee.  If confirmed by the full Senate, Mr. McNamee will join current FERC Commissioners Cheryl A. LaFleur, Richard Glick, Kevin McIntyre, and Chairman Neil Chatterjee. Continue Reading Senate Committee Advances FERC Appointee Bernard McNamee to Confirmation Vote