On November 30, 2023, the Commission denied a waiver request and a request for remedial relief from Ridgeview Solar LLC (“Ridgeview Solar”). Ridgeview Solar had sought a waiver or remedial relief from the procedural deadline in section 212.4 of the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) to post security after the deadline outlined in the section.
Ridgeview Solar is developing a 49.9 MW solar generating facility that will interconnect with transmission facilities owned by American Electric Power Ohio Transmission Company Inc. (“AEP”) within the PJM market. Ridgeview Solar submitted an interconnection request to PJM on March 29, 2019, and has proceeded through the interconnection process, including meeting applicable security and milestone requirements. On May 11, 2023, PJM provided Ridgeview Solar with a draft interconnection service agreement and a July 10, 2023, deadline for Ridgeview Solar to execute the interconnection service agreement and provide $2,608,190 in security. Additionally, Ridgeview Solar stated that PJM recommended in the cover letter that the interconnection customer provide PJM with at least ten business days before the deadline to allow PJM to review any letter of credit. Ridgeview Solar also stated that the interconnection service agreement provided by PJM included an Option to Build but did not include the cost details regarding the utility option to build. Ridgeview argued that due to a lack of information and resulting communications, its ability to review the draft interconnection service agreement was delayed by three weeks. On July 6, 2023, Ridgeview Solar executed the interconnection service agreement, and on July 7, 2023, Ridgeview Solar provided PJM with the document and a letter of credit for the total security amount. On July 13, 2023, PJM informed Ridgeview Solar that it had used the incorrect form of a letter of credit and informed Ridgeview Solar that PJM would withdraw the Project for failing to provide timely security. To cure the deficiency, Ridgeview initiated a cash transfer to PJM of the entire $2,608,190 sum on July 13, 2023, and PJM rejected the transfer. As a result, Ridgeview Solar filed a limited waiver or remedial relief of section 212.4 of the PJM Tariff.
Ridgeview Solar argued that it acted in good faith, the waiver request is limited in scope, granting the requested waiver addresses a concrete problem, and granting waiver here will not have undesirable consequences, such as harming third parties. However, FERC found that Ridgeview Solar’s request to waive section 212.4 of the PJM Tariff to waive the July 10, 2023 deadline to post security to PJM was retroactive and prohibited by the filed rate doctrine. The Commission further disagreed with Ridgeview Solar’s assertion that because the project had yet to be terminated by PJM and remained active in PJM’s queue as of the filing date, Ridgeview Solar’s waiver request was prospective. Since the Commission determined that the filed rate doctrine prohibited Ridgeview Solar’s request, the Commission elected not to address whether Ridgeview Solar’s request would satisfy the Commission’s criteria for waiver request. Accordingly, FERC denied Ridgeview Solar’s waiver request and alternative request for remedial relief.
Chairman Phillips and Commissioner Clements concurred in the order, stating that while the filed rate doctrine may require the result, it is neither equitable nor commercially reasonable. They suggested that PJM should revise its tariff to adopt a cure period that provides interconnected customers a reasonable time to address any deficiencies that PJM identifies in satisfying applicable financial requirements.
The order can be found here.