On January 29, 2019, FERC rejected the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s (“NEPOOL”) proposed revisions to its Second Restated NEPOOL Agreement (“NEPOOL Agreement”) that would have disqualified members of the press from being eligible to become NEPOOL members.  NEPOOL argued that the proposed revisions (“NEPOOL Press Amendments”) were necessary because allowing members of the press as NEPOOL members would undermine the effectiveness of the NEPOOL stakeholder process.  FERC rejected the revisions in part because, according to FERC, NEPOOL did not show that the revisions were just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory or preferential. Continue Reading FERC Rejects NEPOOL Proposal Prohibiting Press Membership

On January 31, 2019, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur announced that she is no longer seeking a third term and will be leaving FERC this year.  Commissioner LaFleur stated that she plans to stay at least until her current term expires, on June 30, 2019, and may stay longer depending on her plans and the appointment of her successor. Continue Reading Commissioner LaFleur Will Not Pursue Another Term

On January 29, 2019, over 180 environmental organizations (“Environmental Groups”) wrote a letter to members of Congress requesting a congressional hearing into the approval process for interstate gas pipelines.  The Environmental Groups argue that FERC approves nearly all proposed pipelines, abuses its eminent domain authority, and relies on erroneous data when evaluating whether to allow pipeline companies to begin construction. Continue Reading Environmental Groups Request Congressional Hearing on FERC Approval of Interstate Gas Pipelines

On January 31, 2019, pursuant to Public Law No. 115-270, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (“AWIA”), FERC issued a notice soliciting comments on proposed rules to establish expedited licensing processes for qualifying projects at existing nonpowered dams and closed-loop pumped storage facilities. Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice on Proposed Hydropower Rules

On January 25, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Circuit”) in a unanimous decision granted a petition for review in Hoopa Valley Tribe v. FERC, No. 14-1271 (D.C. Cir., Jan. 25, 2019).  The key holding in the case, which concerns the ongoing FERC’s relicensing of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, is that the States of California and Oregon waived their authorities under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. § 1341, by failing to rule on the applicant’s submitted application for water quality certification within one year from when it was initially filed in 2006.  The applicant for many years had followed, at the request of the States, the common industry practice of “withdraw-and-resubmit” of its water quality certification application in an attempt to annually reset the one-year time period for the States to act, as established under CWA section 401.  The D.C. Circuit in Hoopa Valley Tribe invalidated this practice as a means of resetting the statutory clock, instead holding that the clear text of CWA establishes that “a full year is the absolute maximum” time for a state to decide on a water quality certification application. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Opinion Strikes Down “Withdraw-and-Resubmit” Practice for State Water Quality Certifications

In orders issued on January 25 and 28, 2019, FERC concluded that the Commission and the bankruptcy courts have concurrent jurisdiction to review and address the disposition of FERC-jurisdictional contracts sought to be rejected through bankruptcy and, therefore, a party to a FERC-jurisdictional wholesale power agreement must first obtain approval from both FERC and the bankruptcy court to modify the filed rate and reject the filed wholesale power contract, respectively.  FERC made its determination in response to two separate petitions (“Petitions”) filed by NextEra Energy, Inc. and NextEra Energy Partners, L.P. (collectively, “NextEra”) and Exelon Corporation (“Exelon”), individually, against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”).  In those Petitions, NextEra and Exelon asked FERC to clarify its authority regarding the prospect of PG&E seeking to reject or amend FERC-jurisdictional wholesale power agreements in its anticipated bankruptcy proceeding.  On January 29, 2019, PG&E submitted its anticipated bankruptcy filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.    Continue Reading FERC Claims Concurrent Jurisdiction Over Wholesale Power Agreements in PG&E Bankruptcy Dispute

On January 17, 2019, FERC denied requests for rehearing of its prior order to revoke Boyce Hydro Power, LLC’s (“Boyce Hydro”) license for its 4.8 MW Edenville Project No. 10808 (“Edenville Project”), which consists of a 6,600-foot-long dam in Michigan.  Boyce Hydro and the Sanford Lake Preservation Association (“Sanford Lake”) (together, the “Petitioners”) raised several claims in their requests for rehearing, including that FERC discounted the efforts Boyce Hydro took to remedy safety issues at the dam.  Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing of Order Revoking Hydro Project License

On January 18, 2019, FERC accepted PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to both PJM’s Amended and Restated Operating Agreement and Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) designed to allow PJM to stop using certain resources to calculate the frequency regulation (“regulation”) market clearing price and reduce spikes in the clearing price in PJM’s regulation market.  FERC found the proposal to be a narrowly-tailored solution to the price spike problem, while noting that broader issues raised in protests regarding PJM’s proposal were beyond the scope of the proceeding and are currently pending before the Commission in other dockets regarding PJM’s regulation market design. Continue Reading FERC Accepts “Targeted” PJM Tariff Revisions on Regulation Service

On January 23 and 24, 2019, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced $78 million in federal funding to improve existing coal-fired power plants and for grid modernization.  Both funding programs come from DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy. Continue Reading DOE Announces New Funding for Improvements to Existing Coal-Fired Power Plants and Grid Modernization

On January 16, 2019, FERC launched investigations and initiated hearings pursuant to Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 5 into three natural gas pipeline companies in response to their Form No. 501-G filings to explore whether they have been over-recovering their costs of service.  Separately, FERC also found that nine other gas companies sufficiently complied with FERC’s directives in Order No. 849 and terminated their Form No. 501-G proceedings without taking any further action. Continue Reading FERC Initiates NGA Section 5 Investigations into Three Gas Pipelines’ Rates, Terminates Nine Other Proceedings in Response to Form 501-G Filings