On May 21, 2020, FERC denied two 2017 complaints alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM’s”) capacity procurement rules are unjust and unreasonable as applied to seasonal resources. FERC concluded complainants failed to show that PJM’s single annual capacity product is unjust and unreasonable, and rejected arguments that the rules discriminate against seasonal resources. Commissioner Richard Glick filed a separate concurring statement. Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaints Against PJM’s Seasonal Resource Participation Rules

On May 20, 2020, FERC issued a notice that it will convene a Commissioner-led technical conference on Wednesday and Thursday, July 8–9, 2020 from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time each day “to consider the ongoing, serious impacts that the emergency conditions caused by COVID-19 are having on various segments of the United States’ energy industry.” The notice stated that the technical conference will explore potential long-term impacts on FERC-regulated entities to ensure the continued efficient functioning of energy markets, electric transmission, transportation of natural gas and oil, and reliable operation of energy infrastructure, while also protecting consumers. Continue Reading FERC to Convene Technical Conference on Impacts of COVID-19 on the Energy Industry

On May 21, 2020, FERC issued three orders denying, or denying in part, complaints against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”), finding that the complainants failed to demonstrate that PJM’s pseudo-tie rules are unjust, unreasonable, or unduly discriminatory or that such rules had been applied in a manner inconsistent with the PJM Tariff. With respect to PJM’s market-to-market flowgate test and its electrical distance requirement, however, FERC granted the complaints in part, finding that PJM’s Tariff fails to provide an open and transparent process regarding PJM’s administration of those requirements. Continue Reading FERC Finds PJM Tariff Lacks Transparency for Pseudo-Tied Resources

On May 21, 2020, FERC reversed, on rehearing, an earlier determination from October 2017 that the Commission has the authority to require the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) to revise its Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) to include refund commitments by non-public utility transmission owning members. FERC found that although it has authority to review non-public utility rates included in jurisdictional rates (such as MISO’s), it was neither necessary nor appropriate to impose the refund commitment contemplated on non-public transmission owners in MISO. FERC also dismissed, as moot, MISO’s compliance filing submitted in response to the October 2017 Order, and terminated various related proceedings.

Continue Reading On Rehearing, FERC Decides Not to Require Prospective Refund Commitment from Non-Public Utility Transmission Owners

On May 19, 2020, the Edenville dam on the Tittabawassee and Tobacco Rivers in central Michigan was breached during historic flooding.  The downstream FERC-licensed Sanford Dam (Project No. 2785) was later overtopped by the increased flows from the Edenville breach.  Evacuation orders were issued for around 10,000 residents in the area and floodwaters from the dam failures encroached on downtown Midland, Michigan, and a nearby Dow Chemical complex. Continue Reading Dam Fails at Michigan Project with Revoked FERC License

On May 19, 2020 President Trump issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to “combat the economic consequences of COVID-19” by “rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery.” Continue Reading President Trump Issues Executive Order Directing Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery from COVID-19

As the California Legislature prepares its 2021 budget and continues to address the impacts of COVID-19, the Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation (Subcommittee) proposed language in a trailer bill related to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (Water Board) authority to issue water quality certifications under section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for federally licensed and permitted activities.  If enacted, the bill purportedly would authorize the Water Board to meet the one-year action requirement under CWA section 401 by issuing a water quality certification—even if California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements are not met.  Further, the bill seeks to authorize the Water Board to make any changes to conditions in the water quality certification at a later date after CEQA requirements are met. Continue Reading Legislative Proposal in California Seeks to Avoid Waiver for Water Quality Certifications Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act

On April 27, 2020, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather information and feedback from hydropower industry stakeholders on its Hydropower Program Research and Development (R&D) Strategy and Hydro and Water Innovation for a Resilient Electricity System (HydroWIRES) Research Roadmap. Continue Reading The Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office Releases Request for Information on Hydropower Program

On May 21, 2020, FERC issued the latest in a series of orders finding that a state—California, in this case—waived its authority to issue water quality certification pursuant to section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Yuba County Water Agency’s (YCWA) Yuba River Development Project, a FERC-licensed hydroelectric project in northern California. Continue Reading FERC Issues Order Finding Waiver of Water Quality Certification; California River Community Seeks State Action on Certification Waivers