On May 29, 2020, Shell Energy North America (US), L.P. (“Shell”) filed a petition asking FERC to interpret PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM’s”) Tariff provisions regarding bilateral transfers of Financial Transmission Rights (“FTRs”). Shell’s petition stems from a pending breach of contract claim brought by GreenHat Energy, LLC (“GreenHat”) against Shell in Texas. Shell’s petition asks FERC to assert primary jurisdiction over GreenHat’s contract claim to allow Shell to seek dismissal of GreenHat’s suit.
Continue Reading Shell Seeks FERC Interpretation of PJM Tariff to Assist on Texas Breach of Contract Claim

On May 21, 2020, FERC denied two 2017 complaints alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM’s”) capacity procurement rules are unjust and unreasonable as applied to seasonal resources. FERC concluded complainants failed to show that PJM’s single annual capacity product is unjust and unreasonable, and rejected arguments that the rules discriminate against seasonal resources. Commissioner Richard Glick filed a separate concurring statement.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaints Against PJM’s Seasonal Resource Participation Rules

On May 21, 2020, FERC found PJM Interconnection, L.LC.’s (“PJM”) existing reserve market design to be unjust and unreasonable and established a replacement market design that includes, among other elements, a downward-sloping Operating Reserve Demand Curve (“ORCD”) and a $2,000/MWh price ceiling. In addition, FERC found that the changes to PJM’s reserve market would render PJM’s existing methodology for calculating its energy and ancillary services offset (“E&AS Offset”) unjust and unreasonable, and directed PJM to implement a forward-looking E&AS Offset on compliance. In a separate dissenting statement, Commissioner Richard Glick stated that PJM’s proposal would result in over procurement of reserves and impose billions of dollars of additional costs on consumers. Pointing to FERC’s recent orders accepting PJM’s Variable Resource Requirement Curve (see April 23, 2020 edition of the WER) and Minimum Offer Price Rule (see April 22, 2020 edition of the WER), Commissioner Glick characterized the May 21 order as the latest installment in a series of decisions prioritizing high prices over efficient markets.
Continue Reading FERC Orders Changes to PJM Reserve Market Design and E&AS Offset Calculation

On May 12, 2020, FERC clarified that the offer floor price calculation for Special Case Resources (“SCRs”)—demand response resources participating in the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) Installed Capacity market (“ICAP”)—must include any payment or other benefit provided by state-sponsored programs. FERC’s order follows a February 2020 order directing NYISO to apply its buyer-side mitigation (“BSM”) rules to all new SCRs, and finding that the offer floor calculation for SCRs should include only the incremental costs of providing wholesale-level capacity services rather than payments from retail-level demand response programs designed to address distribution-level reliability needs. Commissioner Richard Glick issued a separate statement concurring with FERC’s clarification as to the SCR offer floor price calculation, but added that NYISO’s BSM regime will impose arbitrarily high offer floors on SCRs that are not exercising market power.
Continue Reading FERC Clarifies Offer Floor Calculation for NYISO Special Case Resources Includes State-Sponsored Benefits

On April 27, 2020, FERC granted renewable energy company Goldman Sachs Renewable Power Marketing, LLC (“GSRPM”) authority to make wholesale sales of energy, capacity, and ancillary services at market-based rates. However, FERC also found GSRPM to be affiliated with the investment bank Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (“Goldman Sachs”). On the basis of that finding, FERC concluded that GSRPM would be subject to enhanced reporting requirements as a Category 2 Seller in the northwest region of the United States. The order reflects FERC’s increasing interest in the disclosure of corporate structure for purposes of affiliation determinations in market-based rate applications.
Continue Reading FERC Finds Renewable Project Company to be Affiliated with Goldman Sachs Investment Bank for Purposes of Market-Based Rate Analysis

On April 23, 2020 the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Report and Order adopting rules to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band—a band of airwaves used for communications in the operation of electric, oil, natural gas, and water companies—also available for unlicensed use by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected consumer products. The FCC stated that expanding unlicensed broadband operations would provide opportunity for innovation and improve broadband speed and connectivity. The FCC also adopted an Automated Frequency Coordination (“AFC”) system to prevent unlicensed use from interfering with incumbent users including utilities. The Report and Order follows a December 2019 letter from FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioners Richard Glick and Bernard McNamee to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, urging the FCC to consider additional testing of the AFC system to guarantee that unlicensed devices do not interfere with incumbent users.
Continue Reading FCC Approves Unlicensed Use of Airwaves Used in Utility Operations

On April 16, 2020, FERC denied rehearing of an April 2019 order approving changes to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Variable Resource Requirement (“VRR”) demand curve in connection with PJM’s 2019 Base Residual Auction for the 2022/2023 Delivery Year (see April 24, 2019 edition of the WER for more background on the April 2019 order and the PJM’s VRR curve). Among other issues, FERC’s April 2020 order on rehearing rejected arguments that PJM erred in designating a combustion turbine (“CT”) power plant with a new H-class turbine configuration as the Reference Resource—a theoretical new generator that PJM uses as a benchmark to determine the cost of entering the market. In a lengthy dissent, Commissioner Richard Glick argued FERC’s decision is unsupported by substantial evidence and inconsistent with FERC precedent. According to Commissioner Glick, FERC’s approval of a CT Reference Resource and resulting Net Cost of New Entry (“CONE”) estimate will lead to host of issues, including distorting PJM’s entire capacity market design and harming consumers by increasing rates.
Continue Reading FERC Affirms Use of Combustion Turbine as Reference Resource for PJM VRR Demand Curve

On April 10, 2020, FERC consolidated two separate dockets resulting from PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Order No. 841 compliance proceeding, and established paper hearing procedures to examine PJM’s methodology for calculating capacity values—not just for Electric Storage Resources (“ESRs”) participating in its capacity markets, but for all resource types, including run-of-river hydroelectric resources with and without reservoir storage capability. However, FERC held the proceedings in abeyance through October 30, 2020 to permit PJM and its stakeholders time to consider replacing the current capacity value calculation methodology with a new, Effective Load Carrying Capability (“ELCC”) approach. FERC concluded that the October 30 deadline would provide sufficient time to consider the new approach, while also allowing for new rules to become effective in advance of PJM’s next capacity auction. Commissioner Richard Glick issued partial dissent, explaining that he would have held the proceedings in abeyance until January 29, 2021.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes Hearing to Determine PJM Capacity Values; Holds Hearing in Abeyance Until October 2020

On March 20, 2020, FERC issued an order accepting PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposal as part of its Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (“RTEP”) to allow project developers to submit binding cost commitments on a voluntary basis, and to undertake a comparative review and analysis of these commitments in selecting transmission projects. FERC accepted PJM’s proposal over the objections of certain PJM transmission owners, and concluded that the proposal would assist PJM in selecting the most efficient and cost-effective transmission solutions in its RTEP while providing greater transparency into PJM’s evaluation process.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts PJM Plan to Review and Analyze Binding Cost Commitments in its RTEP