On July 18, 2019, FERC issued Order No. 861, modifying its regulations regarding the horizontal market power analysis required to obtain authorization to sell energy, capacity, or ancillary services at market-based rates.  FERC adopted its proposal (see December 20, 2018 edition of the WER) to relieve electric power sellers of the obligation to submit indicative screens to obtain or retain market-based rate authority in any Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”)/Independent System Operator (“ISO”) market with FERC-approved RTO/ISO monitoring and mitigation.  Market-based rate sellers (“MBR Sellers”) must continue to submit indicative screens for authorization to make capacity sales in any RTO/ISO that lacks an RTO/ISO-administered capacity market subject to FERC-approved monitoring and mitigation—currently, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) and Southwest Power Pool (“SPP”).  FERC stated its intent for the rule is to ease regulatory burdens on MBR Sellers while simultaneously preserving its authority to prevent the exercise of market power. Continue Reading FERC Eliminates Obligation to Submit Indicative Screens to Obtain Market-Based Rate Authority in Certain Wholesale Markets

On July 19, 2019, FERC largely denied four complaints filed in May and June of 2015 (“2015 Complaints”) concerning the results of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) 2015/16 Planning Resource Auction (“2015/16 Auction”) for Local Resource Zone 4 (“Zone 4”).  In relevant part, FERC: (1) found that the results of the 2015/16 Auction for Zone 4 were just and reasonable; and (2) denied requests to hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve issues related to the 2015/16 Auction.  Specifically, FERC found no evidence in the record indicating that certain Auction offers violated the MISO Tariff, and the resulting Zone 4 auction-clearing price was just and reasonable. Continue Reading FERC Addresses Complaints Regarding Market Manipulation in MISO 2015/16 Capacity Auction

On July 18, 2019, FERC issued an order denying in part and granting in part a request for clarification or rehearing of Order No. 856, which revised its regulations relating to interlocking officers and directors.  FERC provided additional clarification and explanation, but declined to make any further revisions or to allow rehearing. Continue Reading FERC Grants Partial Clarification of Final Rule on Interlocking Directorates

On June 24, 2019, FERC issued an order rejecting, without prejudice, Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) and the MISO Transmission Owners’ (“MISO TOs”) proposal to allocate MISO’s share of the costs of certain interregional economic transmission projects with PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) and Southwest Power Pool, Inc. within the MISO footprint (“Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal”).  FERC explained that it rejected the Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal because it referenced and relied on certain provisions contained within a related, regional cost allocation proposal that FERC rejected as inconsistent with cost causation principles in a concurrently-issued order (see July 18, 2019 edition of the WER ).  The June 24 order also rejected MISO’s submission of the Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal in a compliance filing in a separate complaint proceeding.  FERC directed MISO to submit a new compliance filing either to confirm that an existing cost allocation method will apply to interregional projects, or to propose a new cost allocation method for these projects. Continue Reading FERC Rejects MISO Interregional Cost Allocation Proposal; Directs Further Compliance Filings

On June 24, 2019, FERC rejected the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) and the MISO Transmission Owners’ (collectively, “Filing Parties”) tariff revisions regarding cost allocation for regional and local economic transmission projects, finding that the cost allocation methodology related to the Filing Parties’ newly proposed Local Economic Project category was inconsistent with the cost-causation principle.  FERC rejected the Filing Parties’ filing as a whole based on the above finding, however FERC did provide guidance on other portions of the filing, stating that it did not find such other aspects of the filing to be unjust and unreasonable. Continue Reading FERC Rejects MISO Tariff Revisions Regarding Cost Allocation for Regional and Local Economic Transmission Projects

On June 26, 2019, the U.S. District Court of Maine (“District Court”) denied a motion for leave to file an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (“First Circuit”) ultimately concerning whether FERC’s enforcement action against Competitive Energy, LLC and its managing member Richard Silkman (collectively, “Respondents”) was time-barred.  The District Court previously denied two motions for summary judgment, relying on the First Circuit’s decision in United States v. Meyer (“Meyer”), which held that a FERC enforcement action accrues when FERC assesses a penalty, and therefore was not barred.  Respondents argued that the District Court should not have followed the First Circuit’s decision in Meyer because two subsequent United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”) decisions—Kokesh v. SEC (“Kokesh”) and Gabelli v. SEC (“Gabelli”)—have overruled Meyer.  In denying the motion for interlocutory appeal, the District Court held that whether Meyer continues to be good law does not present a “controlling question of law as to which there is a substantial ground for difference of opinion.”  Continue Reading Federal District Court Denies Interlocutory Appeal Regarding the Statute of Limitations for FERC Enforcement Actions

On June 27, 2019, FERC rejected PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to its Open Access Transmission Tariff and Reliability Assurance Agreement Among Load Serving Entities in the PJM Region that would have required demand resources to be available year-round.  PJM argued that the proposed revisions better aligned its Price Responsive Demand (“PRD”) program with the year-around availability obligation of other supply-side “Capacity Performance Resources” participating in PJM’s capacity market. On review, however, FERC agreed with concerns raised by PJM’s Independent Market Monitor (“IMM”) and other parties that, among other things, the price-responsive demand program must be more consistent with the annual peak-based billing framework for capacity procurement by Load Serving Entities (“LSEs”).  FERC also agreed that, as a result, PJM’s proposal failed to accurately reflect PRD participants’ load reduction capabilities. Continue Reading FERC Rejects PJM’s Changes to Price Responsive Demand Rules

On June 20, 2019, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur announced on Twitter that she will be leaving FERC at the end of August after serving on the Commission for nine years.  She first announced her intent to leave the Commission in January of this year.  In her recent announcement, Commissioner LaFleur noted that the July open meeting will be her last meeting as a commissioner.  FERC currently has four members—Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee, who are Republicans, and Commissioners LaFleur and Richard Glick, who are Democrats.  Assuming no nominee is confirmed by the end of August, Commissioner LaFleur’s departure would leave FERC with a two to one Republican majority, and a minimum number of commissioners for a quorum. Continue Reading Commissioner LaFleur Announces She Will Leave FERC at the End of August

On June 20, 2019, FERC approved revisions to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) Tariff which permit MISO to share, without notice to its market participants, confidential information with federal cybersecurity authorities in response to detected cyber intrusions or weaknesses in electric utility infrastructure that have the potential to compromise reliability and call for immediate action.  FERC concluded that MISO’s proposal allows for greater information sharing with the appropriate federal agencies before a potential cybersecurity threat becomes an emergency, and appropriately maintains the confidentiality of the information at issue. Continue Reading FERC Permits MISO to Share Market Participant Information with Federal Agencies in Response to “Cyber Exigencies”