On November 17, 2022, FERC issued three orders intended to address the reliability impacts of the rapid integration of inverter-based resources (“IBRs”), including solar, wind, fuel cell, and battery storage resources, on the Bulk-Power System (“BPS”). Specifically, in the first proceeding, FERC directed the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop a plan to register the entities that own and operate IBRs so that NERC may monitor their compliance with NERC’s Reliability Standards. In the second proceeding, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to direct NERC to develop new or modified Reliability Standards that address reliability gaps related to IBRs. Lastly, in the final proceeding, FERC approved revisions to two of NERC’s Reliability Standards.

Continue Reading FERC Issues Proposals Regarding Inverter-Based Resources to Improve Grid Reliability

On November 17, 2022, FERC approved an application authorizing Commonwealth LNG, LLC (“Commonwealth”) to site, construct, and operate a liquified natural gas (“LNG”) export terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The LNG facility’s authorization drew concurring opinions from four of the Commissioners.

Continue Reading FERC Authorizes Commonwealth LNG Export Facility

On November 17, 2022, FERC granted a petition for declaratory order (“Petition”) filed by Ameresco, Inc. (“Ameresco”) and its subsidiaries (collectively with Ameresco, “the Ameresco Companies”) requesting exemption from certain “books and records” requirements under the Commission’s Public Utility Holding Company Act of 2005 (“PUHCA”) regulations because its ownership of certain grid-charged battery storage subsidiaries might otherwise have caused Ameresco to lose its automatic “books and records” exemption under PUHCA. FERC granted the Petition, notwithstanding the fact that some of the storage subsidiaries would not otherwise qualify for the non-traditional utility “books and records” exemption, because the “Ameresco Companies’ books, accounts, memoranda, and other records are not relevant to the jurisdictional rates of Ameresco Companies.”

Continue Reading FERC Finds PUHCA Exemptions Appropriate for Holding Company Ownership of Grid-Charging Storage Facilities Selling at Retail

“Recently, demand response opportunities for residential customers have been expanding. Where these programs allow energy providers to directly control, through the internet, consumers’ smart thermostats and appliances, energy providers may be exposed to patent liability.”

Continue Reading Energy Demand Response Programs and Patent Exposure

On October 28, 2022, FERC conditionally accepted Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) region-wide transmission cost allocation proposal. The revisions alter Attachment J of SPP’s Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) and establish a waiver process through which, on a case-by-case basis, entities may request the costs of a specific transmission facility with a voltage level between 100 kV and 300 kV (“Byway Facility”) to be fully allocated to the SPP region on a postage-stamp basis—i.e., pursuant to a uniform regional rate. Commissioners James Danly and Mark Christie each dissented, respectively arguing that the revisions provide SPP too much discretion to allocate Byway Facilities on a regionwide basis and that the record did not show strong consensus among SPP states for the change in cost allocation.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts SPP Region-Wide Transmission Cost Allocation Proposal

On October 25, 2022, FERC declined to act on a petition for enforcement against California’s rules for solar installations implemented pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”). As a result, ongoing federal litigation against the California rules will continue.

Continue Reading FERC Declines to Act on California Rooftop Solar PURPA Petition

On November 2, 2022, FERC denied a complaint brought by the Iowa Coalition for Affordable Transmission (“ICAT”) alleging that ITC Midwest, LLC’s (“ITC Midwest”) capital structure, with a targeted 60%-40% equity-to-debt ratio, is unjust and unreasonable. FERC found that ICAT failed to demonstrate that ITC Midwest’s use of its actual capital structure to determine its equity ratio is unjust and unreasonable and that ICAT’s reliance on prior FERC precedent was misplaced. Given these findings, FERC declined to address ICAT’s arguments for a 53% equity ratio.

Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaint Against ITC Midwest’s Capital Structure

On October 20, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an Order rejecting a request by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) seeking a rehearing of a Justification Order.  FERC’s Order declining rehearing comes after an October 7, 2020 filing where Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. (“Tri-State”) filed its justification for spot market sales that exceeded the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (“WECC”) soft price cap of $1,000/MWh during the summer months of 2020.  On May 20, 2022, the Commission issued an order finding that Tri-State had sufficient justification for certain spot market sales above the soft price cap but had not justified amounts charged above the relevant index price.  Ultimately, the Commission rejected the CPUC’s rehearing request.

Continue Reading FERC Affirms Use of Certain Price Indices for Justifying Prices above WECC Soft Price Cap

On October 20, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission”) issued an order addressing Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, GridLiance High Plans LLC, and the Indicated SPP Transmission Owners’ (consisting of Evergy Kansas Central, Inc., Evergy Metro, Inc., Evergy Missouri West, Inc., and ITC Great Plains, LLC) (together, the “Petitioners”) requests for rehearing and alternatively request for clarification of the Commission’s June 2022 Order accepting revisions to Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) (“Rehearing Order”). The Commission denied the Petitioners’ request for rehearing and sustained its June 2022 Order establishing SPP’s uniform Zonal Planning Criteria.

Continue Reading FERC Sustains Prior Order Approving Revisions to SPP’s Tariff Establishing Uniform Zonal Planning Criteria

On October 20, 2022, FERC issued orders in two separate proceedings that clarified how investor company appointments to public utility boards of directors can trigger additional FERC regulatory scrutiny. Specifically, in the first proceeding, FERC determined that such appointments established an “affiliate” relationship under FERC’s rules, while in the second proceeding, FERC determined that the appointments effectuated a “change in control” over the public utility that required prior FERC approval under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).

Continue Reading FERC Elaborates on How Board Membership Impacts “Affiliation” Determination Under FERC’s Rules