On February 21, 2020, FERC issued an order accepting ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) November 5, 2019 informational filing about the parameters of its fourteenth Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA 14”) for the 2023-24 Capacity Commitment Period (“Informational Filing”).  In so doing, FERC rejected arguments from ISO-NE’s External Market Monitor and others that ISO-NE over-mitigated the bids of various energy storage resources by relying on improper assumptions and historical data. FERC’s order sparked a dissent from Commissioner Richard Glick.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts ISO-NE’s Informational Filing Regarding FCA 14

On February 20, 2020, FERC issued a notice of inquiry (“NOI”) to learn more about the potential benefits and risks of virtualization and cloud computing services in the bulk electric system operations. The NOI also seeks information about the barriers that exist in FERC-approved Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards that impede the voluntary adoption of virtualization or cloud computing services.

Continue Reading FERC Opens Inquiry into Virtualization and Cloud Computing Services

On February 10, 2020, FERC filed its Rehearing En Banc Brief (“Brief”) regarding opposition to FERC’s authorization of the construction of Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s (“Transco”) proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project (“Project”)—an interstate pipeline designed to supply enough natural gas to meet the daily needs of more than 7 million American homes. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Circuit”) issued an opinion on August 2, 2019, upholding FERC’s decision to conditionally approve the Project. However, on September 16, 2019, Hilltop Hollow Limited Partnership, Hilltop Hollow Limited Partnership, LLC, and Stephen D. Hoffman (“Petitioners”) petitioned the court for rehearing of the court’s opinion en banc. The Petitioner’s main challenge was FERC’s usage of tolling orders, which allows FERC to delay rehearing after granting a pipeline certificate, as impermissible under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The court granted that petition and vacated the underlying judgment in a December 5, 2019 order (see December 11, 2019 WER).
Continue Reading FERC Defends Use of Tolling Orders Before the DC Circuit En Banc

On January 31, 2020, FERC granted Xcel Energy Services Inc.’s application to terminate Southwestern Public Service Company’s (“SPS”) mandatory purchase obligation under Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). In its order, FERC specifically found that (i) SPS, as a member of Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”), is entitled to the presumption that qualifying cogeneration or small power production facilities (“QFs”) within SPS’s footprint have nondiscriminatory access to markets, and (ii) the protestors failed to adequately rebut this presumption. Accordingly, SPS is relieved of its obligation to enter into new contracts to purchase QF electric energy. FERC granted the application effective September 5, 2019.
Continue Reading FERC Grants SPS’s Application to Terminate PURPA’s Mandatory Purchase Obligation

On January 29, 2020, thirty-six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives (“Representatives”) signed a letter expressing their concern about FERC’s December 19, 2019 Order (“Order”) directing PJM Interconnection, L.L.C (“PJM”) to apply its Minimum Offer Price Rule (“MOPR”) to all state-subsidized capacity resources (see December 20, 2019 edition of the WER). According to the Representatives, the Order “nullif[ies]” state energy preferences, prohibits states from pursuing their policy goals, increases consumer costs by forcing them to buy duplicative capacity, runs contrary to FERC’s duty to ensure energy markets are truly competitive, and places deregulated markets at risk. The Representatives requested that the Commission provide a response to each concern discussed in the letter.

Continue Reading House Democrats Express Concern over FERC’s PJM MOPR Order

At FERC’s monthly meeting held on January 23, 2020, Commissioner Bernard L. McNamee announced he will not seek reappointment as commissioner after his current term ends on June 30, 2020. Commissioner McNamee indicated that he will serve through the end of his term or later, if needed to help maintain a quorum at FERC in 2020.

Continue Reading Commissioner McNamee Announces He Will Not Seek Reappointment

On January 10, 2020, FERC issued two separate orders approving Stipulation and Consent Agreements (“Agreements”) between the Office of Enforcement (“Enforcement”) and Emera Energy Incorporated (“Emera Energy”) and Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”), respectively. Both Agreements relate to alleged violations of ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) Tariff. Specifically, with respect to Emera Energy, FERC alleged that Emera Energy violated the Tariff’s requirement that evidence supporting Fuel Price Adjustment Requests (“FPA Requests”) must reflect an arm’s length transaction. With respect to Exelon, FERC alleged that Exelon misreported the type and quantity of start-up fuel used by its Mystic 7 generating unit (“Mystic 7”). In both cases, FERC found that the Agreements were in the public interest and the Enforcement investigations were resolved on fair and equitable terms.

Continue Reading FERC Issues Two Orders Approving Civil Penalties and Disgorgement of Profits for Violations of ISO New England Inc.’s Tariff

On December 30, 2019, FERC accepted tariff revisions by the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) to apply three previously accepted-interim provisions designed to address the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility’s (“Aliso Canyon”) continued operational limitations and impacts on CAISO’s system.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts CAISO’s Tariff Revisions Addressing Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Constraints

On December 10, 2019 FERC accepted ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) proposed revisions to its Tariff to enhance the competitive transmission solicitation process and make additional improvements to ISO-NE’s transmission planning process (“Transmission Planning Improvements”). ISO-NE’s proposal was joined by New England Power Pool Participants Committee and the Participating Transmission Owners Administrative Committee (collectively, “Filing Parties”). The Filing Parties’ Transmission Planning Improvements went into effect on December 10, 2019.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts Changes to ISO-NE’s Competitive Transmission Solicitation Process