On June 15, 2018, in separate opinions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) affirmed two FERC rulings that denied utilities’ requests to be made whole for purchasing natural gas at inflated prices to comply with their PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) capacity resource obligations during the 2014 Polar Vortex.  Specifically, the D.C. Circuit upheld FERC’s holdings that (1) permitting the utility in one case to recover costs retroactively would violate the filed rate doctrine and the rule prohibiting retroactive ratemaking and (2) the utility in the second case was not entitled to indemnification for its losses resulting from PJM requesting the utility to comply with its capacity resource obligations. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Affirms Denial of Recovery of Gas Purchase Costs During 2014 Polar Vortex

On June 21, 2018, FERC approved tariff provisions proposed by the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”).  Specifically, the Commission’s order approved, subject to compliance filing, CAISO’s proposals to revise the definition of which resources qualify as use-limited and to allow those resources to include opportunity cost adders in their bids, while rejecting CAISO’s proposed revisions relating to the Master File, an electronic database of generator-provided data on resources participating in CAISO markets, as well as its proposal to remove ramp rates as components of daily bids. Continue Reading FERC Approves CAISO’s Creation of Opportunity Cost Adder for Use-Limited Resources

On June 21, 2018, FERC found that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) provisions governing the termination of generator interconnection agreements (“GIAs”) were unjust and unreasonable due to an inconsistency between the terms of the GIA contained in the Tariff and the MISO Generator Interconnection Procedures (“GIP”).  FERC also accepted, after a paper hearing, MISO’s proposed revisions to the GIA and GIP termination provisions, subject to further revisions.  MISO’s Tariff revisions clarified that an interconnection customer could extend its commercial operating date (“COD”) for up to three years without risking termination from MISO, which FERC found, subject to modification, just and reasonable.  Continue Reading FERC Conditionally Approves MISO Tariff Revisions Regarding Termination of GIAs

On June 12, 2018, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, through a concurrence in an order denying rehearing (“Rehearing Order”), announced that going forward she will try to consider and disclose the upstream and downstream greenhouse gas (“GHG”) impacts of proposed pipeline projects, even if such information is generic and ignored, as part of FERC’s public interest determination.  In the Rehearing Order, Commissioner LaFleur calculated her own estimation of the total downstream GHG emissions as part of her environmental review in the proceeding, even though the majority did not. Continue Reading Commissioner LaFleur Calculates Downstream GHG Impacts of Pipeline Project in Concurrence

On June 12, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) rejected challenges to FERC orders modifying PJM’s financial transmission right (“FTR”) and auction revenue right (“ARR”) designs.  FERC had ordered changes to PJM’s FTR/ARR designs to address PJM’s inability to make all of the payments owed to FTR owners. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Upholds FERC’s Changes to PJM’s FTR and ARR Designs

On June 8, 2018, FERC approved a Stipulation and Consent Agreement (“Settlement”) between the Office of Enforcement (“OE”) and Duke Energy Corporation and its public utility operating subsidiaries (“Duke”).  OE claimed that Duke violated FERC regulations when it failed to accurately describe certain information in the transmission studies submitted in support of its merger with Progress Energy, Inc. (collectively, “Applicants”).  FERC determined that the Settlement was fair and reasonable and resolved all outstanding claims and proceedings between OE and Duke.  Continue Reading FERC Approves Civil Penalty Against Duke for Submitting Inaccurate Data in Section 203 Proceeding

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. Continue Reading Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on FERC Oversight

On June 8, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) upheld FERC’s re-examination of an order regarding the effective rate for network upgrades in an Interconnection Agreement (“IA”) with the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”).  A power developer, West Deptford Energy, LLC (“West Deptford”), requested interconnection with PJM.  After the negotiations for the IA commenced, PJM’s effective rate changed, triggering a dispute between the parties as to the appropriate effective rate for the IA: the rate in effect at the start of negotiations or the rate in effect at the time the IA was completed. The D.C. Circuit agreed with FERC’s finding that the governing rate is the rate in effect at the time the IA was completed. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Upholds FERC’s Decision Regarding the Timing of the Application of an Effective Rate

On June 7, 2018, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to review improving interagency coordination for the timely processing of environmental reviews and authorizations for non-Federal hydropower projects.  The hearing focused on delays in the licensing process and how interagency coordination can improve licensing reviews. Continue Reading House Subcommittee on Energy Holds Hearing on Hydropower Licensing

On June 5, 2018, FERC granted the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) independent market monitor’s (“IMM”) request to compel the American Electric Power Services Corporation (“AEP”) to provide certain information related to cost-based offers to the IMM.  The IMM stated in its petition that it needed the information to determine whether AEP’s total costs of variable operations and maintenance (“VOM”) included in its capacity offer raise any market power concerns in the PJM Energy Market.  FERC determined that because the IMM had broad authority under PJM’s Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) to request such information, it would grant the IMM’s petition. Continue Reading FERC Approves PJM IMM’s Request for Access to AEP Cost Data for Market Power Analysis