On October 31, 2018, FERC denied a request from a group of wind generation developers (“Wind Generation Developers”) for rehearing of FERC’s order denying a complaint which alleged that the interconnection process under the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) Open Access Transmission, Energy, and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) is unjust and unreasonable because certain wind generators would not receive a Generator Interconnection Agreement (“GIA”) in time to receive Federal Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) benefits.  Notably, FERC found that interconnection customers are not guaranteed that MISO will meet its projected deadlines and that most interconnection customers in the study cluster that was the subject of the complaint will be eligible for GIAs in time to receive PTC benefits.

On January 4, 2018, EDF Renewable Energy, Inc. (“EDF”) filed a complaint with FERC alleging that the interconnection process and Definitive Planning Phase (“DPP”) under MISO’s Tariff is unjust and unreasonable (see April 9, 2018 edition of the WER).  Specifically, EDF argued that MISO’s interconnection queue processing was delayed past MISO’s Tariff requirements, and subsequently, many generation projects would not obtain a GIA in time to begin commercial operation before December 31, 2020 (the deadline for receipt of full benefits of the PTC for eligible wind generation).  EDF proposed a one-time “fast track” DPP process that would enable such generation projects to receive the full benefit of the PTC.  On April 2, 2018, FERC denied EDF’s complaint upon finding that the Tariff requires MISO to make reasonable efforts to meet the interconnection deadlines, and that EDF failed to show that MISO is violating its obligation to make such reasonable efforts.

The Wind Generation Developers sought rehearing of the April 2018 Order and argued that the Commission erred by rendering a decision that failed to consider the following: (1) the substantial evidence in the record, or whether MISO made “reasonable efforts to meet its interconnection queue deadlines” as required by its Tariff; (2) harm to consumers; (3) the need for a one-time variance from MISO’s generator interconnection procedures for PTC purposes; or (4) a remedy that would resolve the issues identified.  In addition, the Wind Generation Developers argued that the technical conference held in April 2018 to address affected systems issues in the interconnection process did not provide a meaningful and immediate benefit for the proposed “fast track” DPP mechanism sought by EDF.

FERC rejected each of the Wind Generation Developers’ arguments.  First, FERC stated that interconnection queue delays may be caused by actions beyond MISO’s control and, therefore, queue delays that may prevent some interconnection customers from receiving the full PTC benefits does not equate to misconduct by MISO under its Tariff.  Therefore, FERC ruled that its denial of EDF’s complaint was supported by substantial evidence.  Second, the Commission found that it had considered harm to consumers and that most interconnection customers in the transition study cluster will be eligible for GIAs in time to qualify for the PTC.  Furthermore, FERC noted that interconnection customers are not guaranteed that MISO will meet its projected deadlines.  Third, FERC concluded that it need not review a “fast track” mechanism to circumvent the current DPP process, because EDF did not meet its burden of demonstrating that MISO’s conduct and the current DPP process are unjust and unreasonable.  Fourth, FERC found that the April 2018 technical conference was limited to interconnection issues related to coordination with affected systems.  Accordingly, EDF’s request for a “fast track” DPP mechanism was not among the issues intended for discussion at the technical conference.  And, in any event, FERC noted that EDF failed to show that the absence of a “fast track” DPP mechanism made MISO’s Tariff unjust and unreasonable.

A copy of FERC’s order is available here.