On September 4, 2015, the Northwest Power Pool (“NWPP”) members’ Market Assessment and Coordination Committee (“MC”) submitted a petition for declaratory order, requesting FERC make determinations with respect to four categories of issues associated with the development of the NWPP’s Centrally Cleared Energy Dispatch Market (“CCED Market”). The CCED Market would provide a platform for voluntary 15-minute trading at a single-market clearing price.

In its petition for declaratory order, NWPP has requested that the Commission confirm the following four items with respect to the CCED: (1) that allowing for completely voluntary participation, including offers to sell or purchase in any given interval, is consistent with applicable law and precedent; (2) that a decision by any generation owner or operator not to offer to sell generation for any given interval will not, by itself, demonstrate an intent to manipulate the market; (3) that participation in the CCED Market by utilities generally exempt from FERC oversight will not diminish the scope of that exemption; and (4) that certain core features, which are further enumerated in the NWPP filing, are consistent with the public interest standard and, therefore, will not be fundamentally changed by FERC when NWPP ultimately seeks approval of its CCED Market structure.

The petition discusses at length the request for a finding by FERC that participation in the CCED Market on an entirely voluntary basis is consistent with applicable law and FERC precedent. According to NWPP, such a voluntary market is necessary if the Bonneville Power Administration (“BPA”) and the Western Area Power Administration, Upper Great Plains (“Western”) are going to participate because, according to the petition, BPA and Western’s statutory obligations limit their ability to participate in any energy market that is less than fully voluntary. On the second issue, NWPP seeks confirmation that any assertion of potential market manipulation concerns would also require a showing of manipulative intent, including consideration of the reasons for not bidding a resource into the CCED Market. According to NWPP, merely withholding a resource from the market should not result in the presumption that the participant is attempting to manipulate the market. On the third issue, BPA and Western indicate that participation must not limit the scope of their Federal Power Act exemption, otherwise, they will be unwilling and unable to participate in the CCED Market. Finally, with respect to the core features for which NWPP seeks a FERC determination, the petition emphasizes the need for the NWPP members to be able to rely upon self-determination of market rules.

NWPP also states that the declarations sought in their petition are critical to their decision of whether to proceed with further development and implementation of the CCED Market. Additionally, NWPP emphasizes that a key policy goal of the CCED Market is to minimize the magnitude and number of changes participants must make to their trading platforms, business practices, and operational infrastructure to participate in the new market.

A copy of the petition for declaratory order can be found here. Comments on the filing are due by 5:00 pm Eastern time on October 5, 2015.