On January 22, 2021, two Washington state irrigation districts, Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District and East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (the “Districts”), filed a Petition for Declaratory Order (“Petition”) requesting that FERC find that Federal Power Act (“FPA”) section 211A does not grant FERC jurisdiction over an unregulated transmitting utility solely as a result of the utility establishing different transmission rates by customer class or by contract.
Continue Reading Two Northwest Irrigation Districts Request Declaratory Order on FERC’s Jurisdiction Under FPA Section 211A

On January 21, 2021, President Biden named Richard Glick as the new FERC Chairman. Chairman Glick joined FERC as a Commissioner in 2017. He previously served as general counsel to the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as Vice President of Government Affairs for Iberdrola’s renewable energy, electric and gas utility,

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 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to revise its regulations to establish incentives for public utilities to make certain cybersecurity investments that go beyond the current requirements of the Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards established by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) (“Cybersecurity NOPR”). Specifically, FERC proposed rules to allow regulated entities to:

  1. receive incentive-based rate treatment for the voluntary implementation of: (i) certain NERC CIP Reliability Standards to facilities that are not currently subject to those requirements (“NERC CIP Incentives Approach”), and/or (ii) certain security controls included in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Framework (“NIST Framework Approach”);
  2. request a return-on-equity adder of two hundred (200) basis points for making eligible cybersecurity capital investments; and
  3. defer cost recovery of certain cybersecurity costs that are generally expensed as incurred, and treat such costs as regulatory assets that may be included in transmission rate base.


Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Cybersecurity Investment Incentives

On December 2, 2020, FERC clarified that when an entity with passive equity holdings in a company later wants to assume operational responsibilities over the company, the entity must obtain authorization under Federal Power Act (“FPA”) section 203 prior to the assumption of operational management responsibilities. FERC’s December 2 order on rehearing modified the discussion in a May 29, 2020 order in the proceedings approving Tenaska Lotus Holdings, LLC’s (“Tenaska Lotus”) assumption of rights as operations manager of 41MB 8me, LLC (“Project Company”) (together, “Applicants”), a 51 MW solar facility in California.
Continue Reading FERC Clarifies FPA Section 203 Authorization Requirements Prior to Acquisition of a Utility’s Operational Management Responsibilities

On December 2, 2020, FERC ordered ISO New England, Inc. (“ISO-NE”) to remove the price-lock mechanism and zero-price offer rule (together, the “New Entrant Rules”) from Tariff provisions relating to its Forward Capacity Market (“FCM”), finding that the price certainty benefit afforded by these rules no longer outweighs their price suppressive effects. FERC also clarified that its termination of these rules would not impact price-lock agreements in effect prior to the issuance of its order. FERC thus ordered ISO-NE to eliminate the New Entrant rules starting in its sixteenth Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”).
Continue Reading FERC Orders ISO-NE to Remove FCM New Entrant Rules From its Tariff

On November 19, 2020, FERC upheld its March 2018 order addressing ISO New England, Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) Competitive Auctions with Sponsored Policy Resources (“CASPR”) proposal to integrate certain state-supported resources into its capacity market (see March 20, 2018 edition of the WER). FERC’s November 19 order upheld its prior conclusion that the CASPR program is a just and reasonable modification to ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity Market (“FCM”) design that appropriately balances consumer as well as supplier interests. In a separate dissenting opinion, Commissioner Richard Glick concluded that the CASPR program has not shown to be an effective means of accommodating state public policies in the FCM.
Continue Reading FERC Upholds ISO-NE CASPR Program on Rehearing

On November 3, 2020, FERC upheld its May 2020 order finding PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) reserve market design to be unjust and unreasonable, and establishing a replacement market design including, among other elements, a downward-sloping Operating Reserve Demand Cure (“ORDC”) and a $2,000/MWh price ceiling (see May 28, 2020 edition of the WER). FERC also upheld its prior finding that PJM should implement a new, forward looking energy and ancillary services offset (“E&AS Offset”). FERC’s November 3 order addressed rehearing requests filed by PJM’s Independent Market Monitor (“IMM”), the Maryland Public Service Commission, and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and the PJM Load/Customer Coalition. Commissioner Richard Glick issued a separate dissenting statement in which he concluded that FERC failed to show that PJM’s existing reserve market design is unjust and unreasonable, and that FERC “rubber stamp[ed]” PJM’s proposed replacement ORDC. Commissioner Glick echoed his dissent in the May 2020 order, explaining that the downward-sloping ORDC will force customers to pay billons of dollars in scarcity pricing when no shortage exists and will produce a windfall for generators.

Importantly, the November 3 order was limited to addressing arguments raised on rehearing of the May 2020 order. PJM’s August 5, 2020 filing, proposing tariff revisions to implement a forward-looking E&AS offset in compliance with the May 2020 order (“August 2020 Compliance Filing”), remains pending before FERC. In the proceeding addressing PJM’s revisions to its Minimum Offer Price Rule (“MOPR Proceeding”), FERC recently stated that the revisions proposed in the August 2020 Compliance Filing will have an impact on the default offer price floors and E&AS Offsets that will be used in the Base Residual Auctions (“BRAs”) and Incremental Auctions for Delivery Year 2022-23 and going forward. FERC therefore stated in the MOPR Proceeding that PJM cannot conduct the BRA for the 2022-23 Delivery Year until FERC has issued an order on PJM’s August 2020 Compliance Filing (see October 22, 2020 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC Upholds Changes to PJM Reserve Market Design and E&AS Offset Calculation

On November 5, 2020, President Donald Trump designated sitting FERC Commissioner James Danly to assume the Chairmanship of the Commission. Chairman Danly joined FERC as general counsel in 2017, and served as a Commissioner from March through November 2020. Chairman Danly replaces Neil Chatterjee in the role, who will remain a Commissioner. Commissioner Chatterjee’s term expires June 30, 2021.
Continue Reading Danly Named FERC Chairman