On September 22, 2022, FERC denied a complaint filed on October 14, 2020 by Cricket Valley Energy Center LLC and Empire Generating Company, LLC. Complainants alleged that the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO’s”) capacity market offer floor rules—termed buyer-side market power mitigation rules (“BSM Rules”)—were unjust and unduly discriminatory because they failed to address price suppression in NYISO’s installed capacity (“ICAP”) spot market auctions. Complainants requested that FERC require NYISO to implement a minimum offer price rule (“MOPR”) that applies to all new and existing resources that receive out-of-market subsidies, with few or no exceptions. In denying the complaint, FERC relied on a May 2022 order accepting changes to NYISO’s BSM Rules to automatically exclude wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, fuel cells that do not use fossil fuel, and demand response resources from adhering to an offer floor when bidding into NYISO’s capacity market. Commissioner James Danly issued a dissenting statement and Commissioner Mark Christie issued a concurring statement.
On August 26, 2022, Commissioner James Danly issued a statement in the FERC docket addressing PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) replacement, focused Minimum Offer Price Rule (“Focused MOPR”). Commissioner Danly argued that the FERC Solicitor’s Office should not have filed its brief defending the Focused MOPR in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third Circuit”), and that doing so violated the Department of Energy Organization Act (“DOE Organization Act”) and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Following the statement, on September 7, 2022, certain Petitioners in the Third Circuit appeal proceedings filed a motion to strike FERC’s brief. Their motion argues that FERC’s brief should not have been filed because the Commission never voted to accept the Focused MOPR, and that filing the brief violates both the DOE Organization Act and constitutional limitations on the authority of executive officials. The Third Circuit has not yet acted on the motion.
Continue Reading Commissioner Danly Issues Statement Objecting to FERC Brief Defending MOPR in Third Circuit Appeal Proceedings; Third Circuit Petitioners Move to Strike FERC’s Brief
On August 31, 2022, FERC issued two orders regarding two proposals to revise the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) resource adequacy requirements. In the first order, FERC accepted MISO’s proposal to move to seasonal resource adequacy requirements rather than a single requirement based on the summer peak. MISO proposed this seasonal resource adequacy construct to address significant increases in emergency events that occur year-round, driven by factors including generation retirements, reliance on intermittent resources, outages resulting from extreme weather events, and declining excess reserve margin. MISO will implement the new seasonal resource adequacy construct in the next Planning Resource Auction (“Auction”) to be held in April 2023. In the second order, FERC rejected MISO’s proposal to require a Minimum Capacity Obligation for participants in MISO’s Auction (“MCO Proposal”).
Continue Reading FERC Approves MISO Seasonal Resource Adequacy Requirements but Rejects Minimum Capacity Obligation
On July 28, 2022, FERC issued a show cause order indicating that several regional transmission organization (“RTO”) and independent system operator (“ISO”) tariffs appear to be unjust and unreasonable because they lack certain credit risk management practices. FERC also issued a related Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to allow all market operators to share credit-related information among themselves so that they can more accurately assess market participants’ credit risks. Both actions aim to improve credit risk management in organized wholesale electric power markets.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Show Cause Order and NOPR on Credit Risk
On July 28, 2022, FERC upheld changes to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Reserve Market that it first required in a December 2021 order on voluntary remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”). FERC’s July 28 order continues to require PJM to: (1) consolidate its Tier 1 and Tier 2 Synchronized Reserve Products; (2) align reserve procurement in the day-ahead and real-time markets by establishing two 10-minute reserve requirements and one 30-minute reserve requirement in each market; (3) revert back to a stepped Operating Reserve Demand Curve (“ORDC”) and $850/MWh Reserve Penalty Factors; and (4) revert to a backward-looking Energy & Ancillary Services (“E&AS”) Offset in the Net Cost of New Entry calculation. The July 28 order also addressed challenges to the December 2021 order on the basis that the motion for voluntary remand was not filed in the D.C. Circuit pursuant to FERC’s tradition of polling the Commissioners for major litigation decisions. The order makes certain clarifications on the Chairman’s role to oversee the executive and administrative operation of FERC, including the direction of litigation. Commissioner James Danly filed a separate dissenting statement.
Continue Reading FERC Upholds PJM Reserve Market Changes, Clarifies Chairman’s Role to Oversee Major Litigation Decisions
On July 28, 2022, FERC proposed changes to its Uniform System of Accounts (“USofA”) in response to the growth of non-hydro renewable generation such as wind, solar, and storage and to codify accounting for renewable energy credits (“RECs”). FERC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) follows a Notice of Inquiry issued in January 2021 seeking comment on the appropriate accounting treatment for certain renewable energy assets (see January 28, 2021 edition of the WER). Comments on the NOPR are due 45 days from its publication in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes Revised Accounting Rules to Address Renewables
On July 8, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) issued its decision in City of Oberlin, Ohio v. FERC, a proceeding involving the issue of whether FERC properly granted NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC (“Nexus”) a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct and operate a natural gas pipeline that will facilitate exports into Canadian markets (“Project”). The Court upheld the certificate.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Allows Natural Gas Pipeline Certificate to Stand, Accepting Export Precedent Agreements as Probative of Need
On June 30, 2022, in a 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the majority, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in West Virginia v. EPA limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. The Court’s decision could have significant implications for other executive branch agencies attempting to issue regulations that implicate “major questions.”…
Continue Reading Supreme Court Decision in West Virginia v. EPA
On June 24th and 27th, 2022 FERC approved two stipulations and consent agreements between FERC’s Office of Enforcement (“Enforcement”) and two separate project developers. First, sPower Development Company, LLC (“sPower Devco”) agreed to a civil penalty of $24,000 after Enforcement determined that sPower Devco violated PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM’s”) Tariff by submitting inaccurate information in PJM’s interconnection process. Second, Salem Harbor Power Development LP (“Harbor Power Devco”) agreed to a civil penalty of $17 million, to disgorge $26.7 million in profits, and to submit to compliance monitoring after Enforcement found that it collected capacity revenues on a project that had not yet been built nor was in commercial operation.
Continue Reading Generation Project Developers Agree to Pay Civil Penalties, Disgorge Profits, after FERC Enforcement Investigations
On June 16, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) focused on updating procedures for interconnecting large generating facilities (20MW and above) and small generating facilities (under 20MW). The NOPR proposes significant updates to FERC’s pro forma interconnection procedures, which were first established in the early 2000s. In the intervening years, however, the nation’s generation fleet has evolved, new technologies have emerged, and interconnection wait-times have steadily increased. The NOPR proposes various reforms to help address growing interconnection queue backlogs and process delays. Comments are due 100 days after the NOPR’s publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 130 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Below is a summary of the primary reforms outlined in the NOPR, which fall into three broad categories: (1) implement a first-ready, first-served cluster study process; (2) increase the speed of interconnection queue processing; and (3) incorporate technological advancements into the interconnection process. FERC’s proposed reforms are discussed further in the full summary, linked below.
Continue Reading Summary of FERC Interconnection NOPR