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On August 31, 2021, FERC denied Cross-Sound Cable Company, LLC’s (“Cross-Sound Cable”) application for incentive rate treatment to create a regulatory asset to recover costs incurred between 2016 and 2021 to comply with Interconnection Reliability Operating Limits (“IROL”) Critical Infrastructure Protection (“IROL-CIP”) costs under Schedule 17 of the ISO-New England (“ISO-NE”) Tariff.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Cross-Sound Cable Company’s Application for Incentive Rate Treatment to Comply with IROL-CIP Costs

In June 2021, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced The Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectric and River Restoration Act of 2021, which would establish a tax credit for certain investments in dam safety and environmental improvements at qualified dams and separate tax credit to incentivize the removal of obsolete river obstructions, including nonpowered dams.
Continue Reading Senators Murkowski and Cantwell Introduce Bipartisan Hydropower Legislation

On July 14, 2021, the City and County of Denver, Colorado, acting through its Board of Water Commissioners (“Denver Water”), filed a Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, requesting declaratory and injunctive relief against Boulder County over the County’s alleged efforts to delay and obstruct Denver Water’s expansion of the Gross Reservoir Hydroelectric Project.
Continue Reading Denver Water Files Complaint in Federal Court, Seeking Preemption of Boulder County Regulation Due to FERC Hydroelectric Project License

On July 15, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission” or “FERC”) issued a Final Rule amending its regulations pertaining to: (1) the information required to be filed with a notice of intent to construct a qualifying conduit facility and (2) the licensing requirements applicable to major projects up to 10 megawatts (MW).  The Final Rule was issued to align the Commission’s regulations with changes to the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) that were made as part of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (“HREA”) of 2013.
Continue Reading FERC Revises Filing Requirements for Certain Small Hydroelectric Facilities

On June 24, 2021, FERC formally issued a public report that outlined its plan to establish the Office of Public Participation (OPP).  The report stated that the OPP’s mission is to assist the public in learning about and participating in FERC proceedings, and that FERC aims to have the OPP at full operating capacity by fiscal year (FY) 2024.
Continue Reading FERC Formally Outlines Office of Public Participation for FERC Proceedings

On May 20, 2021, FERC issued two orders in which it authorized two pipeline companies to construct and abandon certain pipeline facilities, subject to conditions. In an exciting and sometimes tense Commission open-meeting, the Commission ultimately approved Northern Natural Gas Company’s (“Northern”) application to construct and operate certain pipeline compression and auxiliary facilities and abandon short segments of existing pipeline (“2021 Expansion Project”) in Minnesota.

Continue Reading FERC Approves Pipeline Certificates with Last Minute Amendment Caveating GHG NEPA Analysis as “Information Only”

On April 30, 2021, FERC rejected PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to both its Tariff and its Reliability Assurance Agreement (“RAA”) to implement an Effective Load Carrying Capability (“ELCC”) construct for determining capacity values for Variable Resources, Limited Duration Resources, and Combination Resources. PJM also proposed to update its capacity value analysis annually based on variations in resource deployment and load. To account for changes in capacity values from one year to the next, PJM had proposed a transition mechanism that would establish ELCC floor values for resources on a rolling annual basis for 13 years after they enter the PJM capacity market. FERC rejected PJM’s ELCC proposal, finding the proposed transition mechanism to be unjust and unreasonable. However, FERC found that aside from the transition mechanism, other portions of the ELCC framework appear to be just and reasonable for determining accredited capacity values. FERC lifted its previously-established abeyance on the paper hearing procedures addressing PJM’s capacity valuation method, and established a briefing schedule. FERC acknowledged that PJM is under no obligation to implement its ELCC proposal prior to the next Base Residual Auction (for Delivery Year 2022/2023), but emphasized that it “specified an expedient paper hearing schedule to investigate the justness and reasonableness of PJM’s existing capacity valuation methods as soon as possible.” Commissioner Christie issued a separate concurring statement.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects PJM ELCC Proposal Based on Transition Mechanism; Establishes Paper Hearing Procedures

On April 15, 2021, FERC issued a long-awaited policy statement providing guidance on incorporating state-determined carbon pricing into organized markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”). The non-binding policy statement explains how FERC will review and consider rate filings submitted under section 205 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) to establish market rules for incorporating state-determined carbon pricing into RTOs and ISOs.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Policy Statement on Carbon Pricing in Organized Wholesale Electric Markets

On March 23, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (the “Second Circuit” or the “Court”) agreed with FERC’s determination that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) had waived its certification authority under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) by failing to act within the one-year statutory deadline. Notably, the Second Circuit held that a state agency cannot revise a certification request date by written agreement with the applicant, thereby altering the one-year statutory deadline for state action. Denying the petitions for rehearing by DEC and the Sierra Club, the Court applied the same reasoning it applied in New York State Dep’t of Env’t Conservation v. FERC (“New York I”), 884 F.3d 450, 455-56 (2d Cir. 2018) (see March 20, 2018 edition of the WER) where the Second Circuit determined that DEC could not unilaterally alter the application date based on when it considered an application complete “because that approach would allow a state agency not only to dictate when the review process can begin but also to delay it indefinitely.” There, to avoid such a subjective standard, the Second Circuit established a bright line rule that the beginning of the review is determined by the date “of receipt of such request.”

Continue Reading Second Circuit Sides with FERC – States May Not Agree to Revise the Certification Request Date to Avoid Waiver of its Certification Authority Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act