On February 18, 2021, FERC issued two orders terminating the proceedings stemming from the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Proposed Rule on Grid Reliability and Resilience (“Proposed Rule”). FERC previously established rulemaking proceedings in Docket No. RM18-1-000 to consider the proposed rule, which was submitted to FERC by the DOE in September 2017 pursuant to the Department of Energy Organization Act section 403 (“DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding”). FERC terminated the DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding on January 8, 2018 (see January 17, 2018 issue of the WER), instead opening an inquiry proceeding in Docket No. AD18-7-000 (“Inquiry Proceeding”) to evaluate the resilience of the bulk power system in the regions operated by regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) and independent system operators (“ISOs”). On February 18, 2021, FERC: 1) issued an order on rehearing that sustained its decision to terminate the DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding in Docket No. RM18-1-000; and 2) terminated the Inquiry Proceeding in Docket No. AD18-7-000. Commissioner Neil Chatterjee issued a dissenting opinion in the order terminating the Inquiry Proceeding. Continue Reading FERC Sustains Prior Termination of Grid Reliability and Resilience Rulemaking Proceeding; Terminates Grid Resilience Inquiry Proceeding
On February 18, 2021, FERC denied a rehearing request for an order it issued in October of 2020 that stated that payments received under the Commercial System Distribution Load Relief Programs (“CSRPs”) may not be excluded from the offer floors for Special Case Resources’ (“SCR”) calculation under the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) buyer-side market power mitigation (“BSM”) rules. Although FERC denied the request for rehearing, FERC modified and set aside the October 2020 Order in part, finding that the identified CSRPs should be excluded from the calculation of SCR offer floors in NYISO. Commissioners Clements and Christie issued concurring opinions.
On February 18, 2021, FERC took action in a multi-year dispute over the PJM Interconnection’s capacity market pricing rule known as the Minimum Offer Price Rule (or, “MOPR”) by vacating a single troublesome footnote from its last order, making way for PJM to move ahead with its annual capacity auction after years of delay. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will soon take up a host of appeals of FERC’s decisions on the controversial MOPR. Continue Reading In PJM MOPR Proceeding, FERC Vacates Footnote Prompting Danly Dissent
On January 22, 2021, two Washington state irrigation districts, Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District and East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (the “Districts”), filed a Petition for Declaratory Order (“Petition”) requesting that FERC find that Federal Power Act (“FPA”) section 211A does not grant FERC jurisdiction over an unregulated transmitting utility solely as a result of the utility establishing different transmission rates by customer class or by contract. Continue Reading Two Northwest Irrigation Districts Request Declaratory Order on FERC’s Jurisdiction Under FPA Section 211A
On January 20, 2021, President Joseph Biden issued Executive Order No. 13990 (“Executive Order”), which, among other things, suspended Executive Order 13920, “Securing the United States Bulk-Power System” (“Executive Order 13920”) until April 20, 2021 and directed all executive departments and agencies to review and take action to address all actions taken during former-President Donald Trump’s tenure in office that conflict with President Biden’s stated goals of improving public health, environmental protection, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, bolstering resilience to the impacts of climate change, and confronting the climate crisis. Continue Reading President Biden Suspends Bulk Power System Executive Order; Directs Agencies to Address Public Health- and Climate-Related Rules
On February 1, 2021, FERC Chairman Richard Glick announced the appointments of Pamela Quinlan as Acting Chief of Staff and Matt Christiansen as General Counsel. Continue Reading Chairman Glick Appoints New Chief of Staff and General Counsel
On January 19, 2021, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comments on the appropriate accounting and reporting treatment for certain renewable energy assets and for the purchase, generation and use of renewable energy credits (“REC”). Specifically, FERC requested input on the potential creation of new, non-hydro renewable technology accounts within the Uniform System of Accounts (“USofA”), the potential reporting requirements for such accounts, and how the creation of such accounts may impact formula rates. FERC also asked for comments on whether to codify the accounting treatment of the purchase, generation, and use of RECs. Initial comments are due March 27, 2021, with reply comments due April 26, 2021. Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice of Inquiry on Accounting Treatment of Renewable Energy Assets
On January 21, 2021, President Biden named Richard Glick as the new FERC Chairman. Chairman Glick joined FERC as a Commissioner in 2017. He previously served as general counsel to the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as Vice President of Government Affairs for Iberdrola’s renewable energy, electric and gas utility, and natural gas storage businesses in the United States.
In a press release, Chairman Glick stated:
“I am honored that President Biden has shown the confidence in me to lead the agency at this critical moment in time. I look forward to continuing working with my fellow commissioners and the exemplary FERC staff to pursue the Commission’s important statutory missions.”
Read FERC’s press release on Chairman Glick’s appointment here.
On January 19, 2021 FERC issued an order on the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) compliance filings submitted pursuant to the Commission’s January 2020 order on NERC’s five-year performance assessment. FERC’s January 19 order approved NERC’s proposed modifications to its Rules of Procedure regarding: (1) Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (“E-ISAC”); (2) Sanction Guidelines; and (3) Registration and Certification. FERC also accepted NERC’s description of its Reliability Guidelines process, its explanation on E-ISAC operations, and its explanation of its All Points Bulletins (“APBs”) issuances. However, FERC denied NERC’s proposal to replace its Appendix 4A audit process with an alternative program and directed NERC to submit completed reports on its audits for all six Regional Entities by June 30, 2023. Finally, the order directed NERC to submit an additional compliance filing within 120 days of the order that: (a) clarifies information sharing between NERC and the E-ISAC; and (b) revises its Rules of Procedure to explicitly require NERC to share all APBs with the Commission no later than at the time of issuance.
Separately, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing that NERC submit performance assessments every three years as opposed to every five years. The NOPR requires the assessment to discuss any areas of the ERO’s responsibilities and activities, and proposes formalizing the method for the ERO to receive and respond to regional recommendations for improvement of the ERO’s operations, activities, oversight, and procedures. Comments on the NOPR are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On January 19, 2021, FERC directed Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) to submit informational reports regarding four hybrid resources issues: (1) terminology; (2) interconnection; (3) market participation; and (4) capacity valuation. Specifically, FERC directed that each RTO or ISO file a report within 180 days from the order providing: (1) a description of its current practices related to these four issues; (2) an update on the status of any ongoing efforts to develop reforms related to the four issues; and (3) responses to the specific requests for information contained in the January 19, 2021 order. FERC’s request for reports follows a technical conference focusing on technical and market issues raised by hybrid resources (see April 14, 2020 edition of the WER) and a Notice Inviting Post-Technical Conference Comments. Continue Reading FERC Directs Informational Reports on Hybrid Resources from RTOs and ISOs Following Technical Conference