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

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 16, 2020, FERC issued a number of orders at its open meeting that addressed unrelated requests for retroactive waiver of various Regional Transmission Organization and utility tariff provisions. Commissioner James Danly issued a separate statement in each proceeding. Commissioner Danly dissented from many of the orders granting waiver and concurred in the result when the orders dismissed the requests for waiver or granted waiver in certain specific circumstances. In his dissent from an order granting Sunflower Electric Power Cooperative’s (“Sunflower’s”) petition for waiver of certain Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Tariff provisions, Commissioner Danly stated his belief that FERC has no legal discretion to grant retroactive waivers unless the waivers meet certain well-defined exceptions: first, if the parties had notice that tariff provision could be waived retroactively, or second, if the tariff provision is embodied in a private contract between parties who have agreed in the contract to make the rate effective prior to filing the contract with the Commission.
Continue Reading Commissioner Danly Objects to FERC’s Continued Practice of Granting Retroactive Waivers

On October 7, 2020, FERC affirmed its prior determination that certain demand response resources participating in the New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) capacity markets—termed Special Case Resources (“SCRs”)—should be subject to an offer floor, and required revenues from some retail-level demand response programs to be included in the offer floor calculations. Specifically, FERC: 1) addressed requests for rehearing of its February 2020 Order directing NYISO to apply its buyer-side mitigation (“BSM”) rules to all SCRs that participate in NYISO’s Installed Capacity (“ICAP”) market; 2) accepted NYISO’s compliance filing clarifying the offer floor price calculation for SCRs and directed NYISO to submit a further compliance filing; and 3) found, on the basis of a paper hearing established in the February 2020 Order, that payments received under the Distribution Load Relief Programs (“DLRP”) qualify for exclusion from the calculation of SCR offer floors, but that payments received under the Commercial System Distribution Load Relief Programs (“CSPRs”) do not. Commissioner Richard Glick issued a strenuous dissenting opinion to FERC’s order.
Continue Reading FERC Subjects NYISO Demand Response Resources to Buyer-Side Mitigation Rules

On September 30, 2020, FERC accepted the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) proposals to: 1) permit electric vehicle charging stations to participate in CAISO’s demand response program separately from their host facilities (“EV Proposal”); and 2) incentivize behind-the-meter energy storage in CAISO’s demand response programs to “load shift” by consuming energy during over supply conditions and returning that energy to the system during times of need (“Load Shifting Proposal”). FERC held that CAISO’s proposals would enhance its demand response programs, which compensate load, storage, and generation resources for curtailing their demand in response to CAISO’s instructions. FERC also found that the proposals would ensure that CAISO’s policies keep pace with rapidly evolving electric vehicle and behind-the-meter storage technologies, and would permit these resources to participate in the CAISO market under rules that capture their unique characteristics and benefits.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts CAISO Rules Enhancing Demand Response Program for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage Resources