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On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2021 along with $900 billion in COVID-19 stimulus relief.  The Act includes a variety of measures to promote clean energy and climate policy, as well as several hydropower-related provisions.
Continue Reading Hydropower Provisions Included in 2021 Appropriations Bill

On Tuesday, October 13, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) announced its partnership with American Rivers, the World Wildlife Fund, and other environmental groups in a “Joint Statement of Collaboration on U.S. Hydropower: Climate Solution and Conservation Challenge.” The Joint Statement, which was facilitated over the last two and a half years through Stanford University’s Uncommon Dialogue process, is a collaborative effort to address climate change by encouraging “the renewable energy and storage benefits of hydropower and the environmental and economic benefits of healthy rivers.”
Continue Reading Hydropower Advocates and Environmental Groups Reach Historic Agreement

On December 23, 2020, FERC accepted Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposal to implement the Western Energy Imbalance Service Market (“WEIS Market”), a voluntary market providing for security-constrained economic dispatch to balance supply and demand every five minutes. SPP’s proposal consisted of a Tariff to implement the WEIS Market, a joint dispatch agreement executed by eight participating entities, and the Western Markets Executive Committee Charter to establish the WEIS Market’s governance structure and procedures. The December 23rd order follows FERC’s rejection of SPP’s WEIS Market proposal in July 2020.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts SPP Energy Imbalance Market Proposal

On December 17, 2020, FERC issued a final rule permitting Solid Oxide Fuel Cell systems with integrated natural gas reformation equipment to be certified as cogeneration qualifying facilities (“QFs”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”).  The Final Rule follows FERC’s October 15, 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) (see October 21, 2020 edition of the WER), and addresses the comments received in response to the NOPR.  While the NOPR would have limited the type of eligible fuel cells to only solid oxide fuel cells, the Final Rule modified the definition of “useful thermal energy” in section 292.202(h) of FERC’s regulations to include all fuel cells that use waste heat in an integrated fuel reforming process.
Continue Reading FERC Finalizes Rule Permitting Fuel Cell Systems to Qualify as Cogeneration QFs

On December 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a final rule updating its National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) implementing regulations regarding applications to import to, or export from, liquid natural gas (“LNG”) terminals. The final rule follows DOE’s May 1, 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) (see May 22, 2020 edition of the WER). In the preamble to the final rule, DOE explained that the objective of the revision is to improve the efficiency of DOE’s decision-making process through saving time and expense associated with NEPA compliance and eliminating unnecessary environmental documentation.
Continue Reading DOE Updates NEPA Procedures on Authorizations Issued Under NGA

On November 19, 2020, FERC issued Opinion No. 569-B, in which it made minor modifications to the discussion in, but largely reaffirmed, its previously-issued Opinion No. 569-A wherein FERC revised its return on equity (“ROE”) analysis and methodology. Specifically, FERC reaffirmed the three-model methodology it had established in Opinion 569-A, while clarifying that one of the models, the “Risk Premium Model”, would employ historical rather than forward-looking bond yields. FERC also updated the Risk Premium Model to both correct typographical errors and include an inadvertently omitted case.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Minor Revisions to Public Utility ROE Methodology

On October 30, FERC (under then-Chairman Neil Chatterjee) announced that it planned to convene a roundtable discussion (“Roundtable”) on the increased deployment of electric vehicles (“EVs”) and EV charging infrastructure nationwide, as well as their corresponding impact on the FERC-jurisdictional transmission system and wholesale electric markets (see November 10, 2020 issue of the WER

On October 27, 2020, FERC accepted Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO’s”) proposal to require conventional, non-intermittent capacity resources with Energy Resource Interconnection Service (“ERIS”) to secure firm transmission service in the amount of the resource’s full Installed Capacity (“ICAP”) in order to meet its capacity market deliverability requirements. In addition, if a capacity resource obtains firm transmission service in an amount less than the resource’s full ICAP, MISO will prorate the amount of capacity credits that resource receives.
Continue Reading MISO Beefs Up Deliverability Requirements for Conventional Capacity Resources

On October 20, 2020, Voltus, Inc. (“Voltus”) filed a complaint with FERC against the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) and requested fast track processing pursuant to the Commission’s regulations. The complaint asked FERC to: (1) find that MISO tariff provisions prohibiting third party demand response providers from participating in MISO’s wholesale markets are inconsistent with jurisdictional provisions of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and are unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory, and preferential; (2) find that certain electric retail regulatory authorities (“RERRAs”) in MISO issued prohibitions against third party demand response providers in a manner inconsistent with the terms of 18 C.F.R. § 35.28(g)(iii) and that such prohibitions are therefore void; and (3) issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to repeal the provisions in 18 C.F.R. § 35.28(g)(iii) that allow RERRAs to bar third party demand response aggregators from participating in wholesale markets.

Continue Reading Demand Response Aggregator Files Complaint Urging MISO to Set Aside State Opt-out Rules

On October 15, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to revise its regulations implementing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) to permit Solid Oxide Fuel Cell systems with integrated natural gas reformation equipment to be certified as cogeneration qualifying facilities (“QFs”). FERC proposed the changes in response to what it termed the “technical evolution of cogeneration,” and in response to Bloom Energy Corporation’s (“Bloom Energy”) petitioning FERC for such revisions.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes PURPA Amendments to Permit Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems to Qualify as Cogenerators