On January 30, 2020, FERC accepted revisions to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) planning resource auction participation rules for resources expecting extended outages during the planning year.  FERC simultaneously dismissed as moot an earlier-filed complaint by Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative (“Wolverine”) that alleged MISO’s Open Access Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserves Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) was unjust and unreasonable because it allowed resources with MISO-approved outages for the entire planning year to participate in the resource auction.

Wolverine filed a Federal Power Act (“FPA”) Section 206 complaint last September alleging that MISO’s planning resource auction rules unfairly enabled resources to set auction clearing prices when they are not themselves available year-round.  As an example, Wolverine argued that a resource that was unavailable for the entire year nonetheless set the market clearing price for Local Resource Zone 7 in the 2019/2020 planning year, forcing the retirement of a Wolverine resource that was unable to clear the auction.  According to Wolverine, MISO’s auction rules create a “free-rider” problem where offline resources could lean on available resources while still receiving compensation for clearing the auction.  Wolverine argued that the rules also unfairly depress short-term capacity prices, distort long-term price signals, and jeopardize system reliability by creating a capacity shortage.

MISO subsequently made an FPA 205 filing revising its Tariff to limit participation for resources expecting outages that would last for any ninety (90) or more days of the first one hundred and twenty (120) calendar days in the planning year.  The revisions also provide the MISO Independent Market Monitor authority to review resource outages to determine whether resources engage in physical withholding.  MISO signaled its intention to make additional revisions to address resource accreditation and qualification issues to avoid potential gaming of these new rules—namely that a resource might bid into the auction knowing it was facing a long-term outage, but not notify MISO accordingly until after it had cleared the auction.  Both Wolverine and MISO requested FERC consolidate the complaint and tariff proceedings, but acknowledged that Wolverine’s complaint would be moot if the Commission accepted MISO’s filing.

FERC declined to consolidate the proceedings, explaining that a trial-type evidentiary hearing was not required to resolve the common issues of law and fact and that consolidation would therefore not result in any greater administrative efficiency.  Instead, FERC simply accepted the MISO Tariff revisions and dismissed Wolverine’s complaint as moot because there was no longer a live controversy.

A copy of the order is available here.