On July 17, 2020, FERC issued three orders relating to the executed cost-of-service agreement (“Mystic Agreement”) among Constellation Mystic Power, LLC (“Mystic”), Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”), and ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”).  The Mystic Agreement provides for cost-of-service compensation to Mystic for the continued operation of two gas-fired generating units.  In the first two orders, FERC addressed requests for rehearing of its 2018 orders accepting the Mystic Agreement (the “July 2018 Order” and the “December 2018 Order”), including its conclusion that Mystic should recover from ratepayers 91% of the operating costs of the Everett Marine Terminal (“Everett”), a non-jurisdictional liquified natural gas import terminal.  In its third order, FERC accepted in part a Mystic compliance filing submitted in response to the December 2018 Order.  Commissioner Glick issued dissents to each of the July 17 orders.  Commissioner Glick concluded that FERC was forcing consumers to pay the full cost of service for Mystic in order to “bail out” Everett, and that each of the orders exceeded FERC’s jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).

Continue Reading Divided FERC Permits Mystic to Recover Operating Costs of Non-Jurisdictional LNG Terminal

On July 16, 2020, FERC responded to a petition for declaratory order filed by a group of merchant generators (“Petitioners”) requesting that the Commission provide guidance and clarification on six areas of its cost-based reactive power ratemaking policy. While FERC declined to address five of Petitioners’ specific requests, explaining that it would address them in another ongoing reactive rate proceeding, FERC established paper hearing procedures on a single question: “what proxies, if any, may be used by merchant generators for reactive power service ratemaking purposes other than the use of the capital structure and the cost of capital of the interconnected utility.”
Continue Reading FERC to Consider Merchant Cost of Capital for Reactive Power Rates

Executive Summary of FERC Order No. 872: Qualifying Facility Rates and Requirements Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 [1]

I. Overview

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) issued Order No. 872, the Commission’s final order revising its regulations implementing Sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) [2]. This order, which follows a 2016 technical conference on PURPA issues and a September 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) [3], is the first major set of revisions to FERC’s regulations implementing PURPA since they were established through Order No. 69 in 1980.

As FERC explained in the NOPR, the energy landscape has evolved in significant ways since the initial PURPA regulations were established, which includes increased supplies of natural gas, a more matured renewables industry, and the growing presence of non-Qualifying Facility (QF) independent power producers. These and other changes prompted FERC to revise its PURPA regulations, many of which are implemented by the states. These new changes provide additional guidance to state commissions regarding PURPA implementation and rests additional authority in state commissions regarding QF rates and contract terms.
Continue Reading Analyzing FERC’s Order Updating PURPA Regulations for First Time in Almost 40 Years

On July 6, 2020, FERC moved for a ninety-day stay of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s (“D.C. Circuit’s”) mandate in Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC. That decision upset FERC’s long-used practice of granting itself more time to consider requests for rehearing of its orders by issuing tolling orders (see July 1, 2020 issue of the WER). Although the decision was issued in the context of a pipeline proceeding under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”), FERC’s motion noted that the impact of the D.C. Circuit’s decision extends to all requests for rehearing under the NGA, and presumably to those under the Federal Power Act as well. In support of its motion, FERC explained that over the past fifty years, tolling orders have been a critical tool to help manage its large case load and bring its expertise to bear on complex technical matters before they are presented to the courts of appeals. FERC stated that a stay of the court’s mandate would afford it time to consider how to revise its processes and allocate its resources in the absence of tolling orders. FERC also argued that a stay would give it and the Solicitor General additional time to consider whether to petition the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, though it noted that the ultimate decision of whether to petition the Supreme Court lies with the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice.
Continue Reading FERC Moves to Stay DC Circuit’s Tolling Order Decision

On July 1, 2020, FERC’s new rules for physical filings became effective.  The rules require that all physical filings and submissions delivered to FERC other than those sent via the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”), be sent to an off-site security screening facility (see September 17, 2019 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC’s New Rules for Physical Filings Become Effective

On June 18, 2020, FERC denied a complaint by Anbaric Development Partners, L.L.C. (“Anbaric”) against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) alleging that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures denied meaningful open access interconnection service to Anbaric’s proposed offshore transmission projects (see December 11, 2019 edition of the WER). FERC’s June 18 order concluded that Anbaric failed to demonstrate that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures are unjust and unreasonable, or that the requirements for merchant transmission projects are either inconsistent with open access transmission service or unreasonably limit transmission expansion. FERC also highlighted its upcoming technical conference to discuss offshore wind integration in organized markets (see June 24, 2020 edition of the WER). Commissioner Bernard McNamee issued a separate concurring statement in which he highlighted his support for the technical conference.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaint Against PJM Over Denial of Interconnection Service to Transmission Projects Seeking to Connect Offshore Wind

On June 18, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) requesting comment on whether the currently-effective Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards adequately address: (i) cybersecurity risks pertaining to data security; (ii) detection of anomalies and events; and (iii) mitigation of cyber security events. FERC also seeks comment on the potential risk of a coordinated cyberattack on geographically distributed targets and whether Commission action, including potential modifications to the CIP Reliability Standards, would be appropriate to address such risk. In addition, FERC staff issued a White Paper seeking comment on a potential new framework for providing transmission incentives to utilities for their cybersecurity investments.
Continue Reading FERC Seeks Comment on Potential Enhancements to CIP Reliability Standards and Potential Transmission Incentives Framework for Cybersecurity Investments

On June 17, 2020, FERC issued two notices of upcoming technical conferences. First, a Commissioner-led technical conference is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30, 2020 to discuss considerations related to state adoption of mechanisms to price carbon dioxide emissions, commonly referred to as “carbon pricing,” in regions with FERC-jurisdictional organized wholesale electricity markets. Second, a staff-led technical conference will be held on October 27, 2020 to: (i) discuss whether existing transmission, interconnection, and merchant transmission facility frameworks in Regional Transmission Organizations/Independent System Operators (“RTOs/ISOs”) can accommodate anticipated growth in offshore wind generation in a manner that safeguards open access transmission principles; and (ii) consider possible changes or improvements to the current framework should they be needed to accommodate such growth.
Continue Reading FERC to Convene Technical Conferences on Carbon Pricing and Offshore Wind Integration

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