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On February 18, 2021, FERC issued two orders terminating the proceedings stemming from the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Proposed Rule on Grid Reliability and Resilience (“Proposed Rule”). FERC previously established rulemaking proceedings in Docket No. RM18-1-000 to consider the proposed rule, which was submitted to FERC by the DOE in September 2017 pursuant to the Department of Energy Organization Act section 403 (“DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding”). FERC terminated the DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding on January 8, 2018 (see January 17, 2018 issue of the WER), instead opening an inquiry proceeding in Docket No. AD18-7-000 (“Inquiry Proceeding”) to evaluate the resilience of the bulk power system in the regions operated by regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) and independent system operators (“ISOs”). On February 18, 2021, FERC: 1) issued an order on rehearing that sustained its decision to terminate the DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding in Docket No. RM18-1-000; and 2) terminated the Inquiry Proceeding in Docket No. AD18-7-000.  Commissioner Neil Chatterjee issued a dissenting opinion in the order terminating the Inquiry Proceeding.
Continue Reading FERC Sustains Prior Termination of Grid Reliability and Resilience Rulemaking Proceeding; Terminates Grid Resilience Inquiry Proceeding

On January 19, 2021 FERC issued an order on the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) compliance filings submitted pursuant to the Commission’s January 2020 order on NERC’s five-year performance assessment. FERC’s January 19 order approved NERC’s proposed modifications to its Rules of Procedure regarding: (1) Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (“E-ISAC”); (2) Sanction

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