On September 16, 2020, the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“Committee”) held a hearing to consider Allison Clements’ and Mark C. Christies’ pending FERC nominations as FERC Commissioners. Ms. Clements is slated to join the Commission for a term expiring June 24, 2024, and Mr. Christie is set to join for a term expiring June 30, 2025.

Continue Reading Senate Committee Holds Hearing to Consider Pending FERC Nominations

On September 9, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (“First Circuit”) affirmed the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (“District Court”)  dismissal of a lawsuit alleging Eversource Energy and Avangrid (“Defendants”) manipulated Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC (“Algonquin”) pipeline capacity and violated federal and state antitrust laws. The First Circuit followed its previous decision addressing a lawsuit challenging the same conduct by Defendants, but brought by different plaintiffs (see September 25, 2019 edition of the WER), which held that because the Defendants’ actions were permitted under a tariff filed with and accepted by FERC, the filed rate doctrine barred any attempt to challenge or change those rates or terms in federal court. Notably, the First Circuit also admonished FERC for being “slow to recognize market defects that create opportunities to exploit market power.”

Continue Reading First Circuit Affirms that Complaints About Gas Pipeline Capacity Hoarding in New England Are Barred by Filed Rate Doctrine, Criticizes FERC for not Policing Markets

On August 28, 2020, FERC issued a supplemental Notice of a Commission-led Technical Conference on state pricing for carbon dioxide emissions, commonly referred to as carbon pricing, in FERC-jurisdictional wholesale electric markets (“Conference”). The Conference is free and will take place online on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.

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On July 22, 2020, FERC approved a mitigation proposal that Sun Jupiter Holdings, LLC (“Sun Jupiter”) and El Paso Electric Company (“El Paso”) (together, “Applicants”) submitted in response to FERC’s March 30, 2020 order (“March 2020 Order”) conditioning approval of Sun Jupiter’s merger with and into El Paso and requiring the Applicants to address the transaction’s adverse impact on competition in certain circumstances. FERC also dismissed, on procedural grounds, United States Senators Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Bernard Sanders (D-VT) (collectively, “Senators”) request for rehearing, and denied Public Citizen, Inc.’s  (“Public Citizen”) request for rehearing of FERC’s March 2020 Order.

Continue Reading FERC Approves Sun Jupiter’s and El Paso’s Mitigation Proposal, Dismisses U.S. Senators’ and Public Citizen’s Requests for Rehearing

On July 16, 2020, FERC dismissed a petition for declaratory order by the New England Ratepayers Association (“NERA”) that asked FERC to assert jurisdiction over net metering, finding that the petition failed to identify a specific controversy or harm that warranted a generic response from FERC. NERA’s petition had requested that FERC declare: (1) that all flows of electricity from behind-the-meter generators under state net metering programs back to the interconnected utility are wholesale sales subject to FERC’s exclusive jurisdiction, and (2) such sales should be priced in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) or the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”). Commissioners Bernard L. McNamee and James Danly issued separate concurring opinions, noting that though NERA’s petition was procedurally unsound, the issues raised could be addressed on the merits in a different proceeding.

Continue Reading FERC Declines Request to Assert Jurisdiction over Net Metering

On June 18, 2020, FERC denied rehearing, but granted partial clarification, of a 2019 order addressing certain market power mitigation reforms proposed by the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”). In particular, FERC again rejected CAISO’s “Net Export Limit” proposal to enhance local market power mitigation in the western energy imbalance market (“EIM”). As FERC reiterated in its order, the Net Export Limit proposal could allow EIM resource owners to limit dispatch during periods of market power mitigation, resulting in unjust and unreasonable market outcomes.
Continue Reading FERC Denies CAISO’s Rehearing Request, and Grants Limited Clarification, Regarding CAISO’s EIM Net Export Limit Proposal

On June 18, 2020, FERC issued an order directing New Fortress Energy LLC (“New Fortress Energy”) to show cause, within 30 days, why the liquified natural gas (“LNG”) handling facilities it constructed adjacent to the San Juan Combined Cycle Power Plant in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are not subject to FERC’s jurisdiction under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).

Continue Reading New Fortress Energy Directed to Show Cause Why Its LNG Facility is Not Subject to FERC Jurisdiction

On May 29, 2020, FERC accepted PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) and PJM Settlement, Inc.’s (“PJM Settlement”) proposed revisions to its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) and the Amended and Restated Operating Agreement establishing updated credit risk evaluation criteria and processes for market participants in PJM. These revisions, which enhance PJM’s rules for evaluating and managing the posed credit risk of current and potential PJM market participants, were developed in response to GreenHat Energy LLC’s (“GreenHat”) 2018 default on a large portfolio of Financial Transmission Rights (“FTRs”). The proposed revisions went into effect on June 1, 2020, as requested. Commissioners James Danly and Richard Glick issued concurring opinions.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts PJM’s Credit Risk Evaluation Proposal After GreenHat’s 2018 Default

On May 21, 2020, FERC reversed, on rehearing, an earlier determination from October 2017 that the Commission has the authority to require the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) to revise its Transmission, Energy and Operating Reserve Markets Tariff (“Tariff”) to include refund commitments by non-public utility transmission owning members. FERC found that although it has authority to review non-public utility rates included in jurisdictional rates (such as MISO’s), it was neither necessary nor appropriate to impose the refund commitment contemplated on non-public transmission owners in MISO. FERC also dismissed, as moot, MISO’s compliance filing submitted in response to the October 2017 Order, and terminated various related proceedings.

Continue Reading On Rehearing, FERC Decides Not to Require Prospective Refund Commitment from Non-Public Utility Transmission Owners

On May 21, 2020, FERC issued a proposed policy statement setting forth a revised approach to addressing requests for waiver, including: waiver of rates; non-rate terms and conditions; market rules; and procedural deadlines that are set forth in tariffs, rate schedules, service agreements, and contracts on file with FERC (“Proposed Policy Statement”). FERC specifically proposes to:

  1. discontinue granting retroactive waivers of tariff provisions, with a few specified exceptions; and
  2. grant requests for “remedial relief” only when applicants demonstrate that (a) such a request does not violate the filed rate doctrine or rule against retroactive ratemaking, or (b) the requested relief is within FERC’s remedial authority under section 309 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) or section 16 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).


Continue Reading FERC Proposes and Seeks Comment on Changes to its Policies on Retroactive Waivers