On November 17, 2022, FERC granted a petition for declaratory order (“Petition”) filed by Ameresco, Inc. (“Ameresco”) and its subsidiaries (collectively with Ameresco, “the Ameresco Companies”) requesting exemption from certain “books and records” requirements under the Commission’s Public Utility Holding Company Act of 2005 (“PUHCA”) regulations because its ownership of certain grid-charged battery storage subsidiaries might otherwise have caused Ameresco to lose its automatic “books and records” exemption under PUHCA. FERC granted the Petition, notwithstanding the fact that some of the storage subsidiaries would not otherwise qualify for the non-traditional utility “books and records” exemption, because the “Ameresco Companies’ books, accounts, memoranda, and other records are not relevant to the jurisdictional rates of Ameresco Companies.”

Continue Reading FERC Finds PUHCA Exemptions Appropriate for Holding Company Ownership of Grid-Charging Storage Facilities Selling at Retail

On October 20, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission”) issued an order addressing Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, GridLiance High Plans LLC, and the Indicated SPP Transmission Owners’ (consisting of Evergy Kansas Central, Inc., Evergy Metro, Inc., Evergy Missouri West, Inc., and ITC Great Plains, LLC) (together, the “Petitioners”) requests for rehearing and alternatively request for clarification of the Commission’s June 2022 Order accepting revisions to Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) (“Rehearing Order”). The Commission denied the Petitioners’ request for rehearing and sustained its June 2022 Order establishing SPP’s uniform Zonal Planning Criteria.

Continue Reading FERC Sustains Prior Order Approving Revisions to SPP’s Tariff Establishing Uniform Zonal Planning Criteria

Introduction

On September 22, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish rules providing incentive-based rate treatment for utilities making certain voluntary cybersecurity investments (“Cybersecurity NOPR” or “NOPR”).[1] According to FERC, the Cybersecurity NOPR seeks to benefit consumers and national security by encouraging investments in advanced cybersecurity technology and participation by utilities in cybersecurity threat information sharing programs, as directed by Congress in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (“Infrastructure and Jobs Act” or “Act”).[2] While the Cybersecurity NOPR supersedes FERC’s December 2020 cybersecurity NOPR (whose docket is being terminated), the instant Cybersecurity NOPR generally retains the incentive provisions outlined in the December 2020 NOPR. Under the Cybersecurity NOPR, FERC proposes that:

Continue Reading FERC Proposes to Offer Rate Incentives for Voluntary Cybersecurity Investment

On July 15, 2022, a FERC Administrative Law Judge (“Presiding Judge”) issued an initial decision in a proceeding involving the “threshold” issue of whether four solar generating facilities (collectively, “Facilities”) interconnected at the distribution level are eligible to receive reactive power compensation under Schedule 2 of the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”). The Presiding Judge concluded that the Facilities are ineligible to receive reactive power rates because the facilities in question did not satisfy the so-called capability requirement, as explained further below.
Continue Reading FERC Judge Rules that Four Solar Generators Interconnected at the Distribution Level Are Ineligible to Receive Reactive Power Compensation Under PJM’s Tariff

On May 31, 2022, FERC accepted and set for hearing Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposal to revise its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”) to establish a formula rate template (“Formula Rate”) on behalf of People’s Electric Cooperative (“People’s Electric”) when People’s Electric transfers functional control of its transmission facilities to SPP on June 1, 2022. The Commission granted People’s Electric’s request to include a 50-basis point adder for participating as a member of SPP, a regional transmission organization (“RTO”). Commissioner Christie wrote separately in concurrence to express his continued support for limiting the RTO participation adder to three years.
Continue Reading FERC Approves ROE Adder for SPP Membership, Prompting Statement from Commissioner Christie

On April 29, 2022, the FERC rejected Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.’s (“MISO”) proposed tariff revisions that sought to “extend” MISO Transmission Owners’ option to self-fund transmission upgrades so as to apply to Necessary Upgrades to support the connection of Merchant High Voltage Direct Current (“MHVDC”) transmission into MISO. FERC found that MISO failed to show its proposal was just and reasonable because MISO argued that Network Upgrades and Necessary Upgrades were functionally identical yet only proposed to extend the self-funding option traditionally applied to Network Upgrades without also extending other funding options and protections for customers.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects MISO Proposal for Transmission Owners to Self-fund Necessary Upgrades to Connect Merchant HVDC Lines

On April 21, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to reform its policies regarding Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation. The NOPR follows from an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) on these reforms, which FERC issued in July 2021. Representing FERC’s most significant action on transmission planning and cost allocation in more than a decade, the NOPR outlines six major proposals:
Continue Reading Summary of FERC’s April 2022 NOPR on Transmission Planning, Cost Allocation, and Generator Interconnection

On April 5, 2022, FERC approved PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to the Consolidated Transmission Owners Agreement (“CTOA”) aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency in decision-making among the 18 transmission owners currently eligible to vote on PJM business. Despite a protest arguing that the proposal would disenfranchise non-traditional transmission owners, FERC found that the proposed revisions “rebalance the CTOA voting rules to better align with individual PJM Transmission Owners’ economic stakes in the transmission system.”
Continue Reading FERC Approves New Voting Rules for PJM Transmission Owners

On December 28, 2021, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) vacated and remanded a series of FERC orders that allowed for the formula rate pass-through of “indirect” public relations and advocacy expenditures incurred by Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, LLC (“PATH”) related to its pursuit of certificates of public convenience and necessity to build a proposed electric transmission line (“December 28 Opinion”). The D.C. Circuit held that PATH had improperly booked the expenditures to incorrect accounts under FERC’s Uniform System of Accounts (“USofA”), and that Account 426.4–Expenditures for Certain Civic, Political and Related Activities, should have been used instead because it contemplated the inclusion of indirect, as well as direct, public relations and advocacy expenses.

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Vacates and Remands FERC Orders Permitting Formula Rate Pass-Through of “Indirect” Public Relations and Advocacy Expenditures

On January 5, 2022, FERC denied a motion of the Andrew Kittell Estate (“Kittell Estate”) to drop FERC’s enforcement action against GreenHat Energy, LLC (“GreenHat”) because of an October 1, 2021 revelation that FERC’s decisional staff had improperly communicated with FERC enforcement litigation staff (“Email Exchange”) regarding the GreenHat enforcement proceeding, potentially violating FERC’s Separation of Functions regulations (“January 5 Order”). In the January 5 Order, however, FERC abstained from deciding whether the Email Exchange violated Commission regulations, finding that “the conduct at issue here would not warrant the extraordinary remedy of dismissal,” which sparked a dissent from Commissioner Danly, who “would have explicitly found that the email exchange . . . was inappropriate, ordered the two attorneys barred from all future involvement in this matter, and directed Commission staff to conduct a robust, public investigation with findings to be set forth in a later Commission order.”
Continue Reading FERC Denies Motion to Drop Enforcement Action in GreenHat Proceeding, Sparking Dissent from Commissioner Danly