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Russell Kooistra counsels an array of energy companies on various issues related to natural gas and electricity markets. Russell uses his in-depth knowledge of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy and regulations to advise clients on complex regulatory matters.

On March 21, 2024, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking additional information on whether the Commission should continue to allow interstate pipelines to package “high value” capacity with non-contiguous and operationally unrelated parcels of capacity in a single auction or open season, thus requiring interested bidders to bid on both segments of capacity.  Initial comments on the NOI are due by June 20, 2024.Continue Reading FERC Initiates Inquiry into Capacity Allocation on Non-Contiguous Pipeline Segments

Executive Summary

On March 21, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) issued Order No. 2023-A (Final Rule), which reaffirmed aspects of Order No. 2023 — the Commission’s landmark order updating its generator interconnection procedures. As detailed further in this summary, the Commission largely upheld Order No. 2023, including some of the more controversial aspects of the order, such as penalties and the transmission capacity “heat map,” and provided further clarity on other aspects.Continue Reading Troutman Pepper Summary of FERC Order No. 2023-A on Generator Interconnections

On December 19, 2023, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) to examine whether and how to revise its policy on providing blanket authorizations for holding companies, including investment companies, to acquire securities in electric utilities and their upstream owners pursuant to section 203(a)(2) of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”). Specifically, the Commission is soliciting comment on what constitutes control of a public utility in evaluating holding companies’ requests for authorization and what factors it should consider when evaluating control. Commissioner Mark Christie concurred with a separate statement, stating that FERC should examine whether investment companies are truly acting as passive investors in electric utilities and whether FERC’s blanket authorization practices are still sufficient to protect the interests of the electric utilities’ customers.Continue Reading FERC Opens Inquiry into Upstream Investment Interests in Public Utilities

On November 16, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to update its National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) implementing regulations to add a categorical exclusion for specific energy storage systems and revising categorical exclusions for upgrading and rebuilding transmission lines and solar photovoltaic (“PV”) systems. Comments on the NOPR are due January 2, 2024.Continue Reading DOE Proposes to Limit NEPA Review for Transmission, Storage, and Solar

On September 29, 2023, FERC approved Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C.’s (“TGP”) proposal to lease intrastate capacity from Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline LLC (“Kinder Morgan”) to offer a new hourly transportation “PowerServe” service. According to the parties’ joint application, PowerServe will offer increased flexibility to shippers serving gas-fired power generation facilities that backstop renewable energy sources. Commissioner Danly concurred in part and dissented in part with a separate statement that has not been issued at the time of this article.Continue Reading FERC Accepts Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s New PowerServe Rate Schedule and Authorizes Capacity Lease Agreement with Kinder Morgan

On September 21, 2023, the Commission found that J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc. (“J.P. Morgan Investment”) is an affiliate of Mankato Energy Center, LLC and Mankato Energy Center II, LLC (“Mankato Companies”) through their upstream owner, IIF US Holding 2 LP (“IIF US Holding 2”) because there is liable to be an absence of arm’s-length bargaining in transactions between Mankato Companies and J.P. Morgan Investment.  In doing so, FERC considered, among other things, the power delegated by IIF US Holding 2 to J.P. Morgan Investment, which serves as IIF US Holding 2’s investment advisor.  Commissioner Danly concurred in the result in a separate statement, and Chairman Willie Phillips concurred in a separate statement.Continue Reading FERC Finds Affiliation Between J.P. Morgan Investment and Mankato Companies

On July 3, 2023, FERC affirmed its earlier determination that Bluescape Energy Partners, LLC’s (“Bluescape”) appointment of a non-independent director to Evergy Inc.’s (“Evergy”) Board of Directors overcomes the rebuttable presumption of a lack of control under FERC’s regulations that normally applies when a company owns less than 10 percent of another company’s equity (see October 27, 2022 edition of the WER).  Additionally, FERC clarified that the appointment of a non-independent director is a per se finding of control and found affiliation between Bluescape and Evergy, and therefore between Bluescape and Evergy’s public utility subsidiaries, pursuant to the definition of “affiliate” under FERC’s rules.Continue Reading FERC Affirms Finding of Affiliation Over Appointment of Director

On June 13, 2023, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security held a hearing on the “Oversight of FERC: Adhering to a Mission of Affordable and Reliable Energy for America.” The hearing focused on reliability and the transition from fossil fuel generation to renewable resources.Continue Reading House Subcommittee Holds FERC Oversight Hearing on Improving Reliability Through Energy Expansion, Interregional Transmission, and Backing Renewables with Fossil Fuels

On June 15, 2023, FERC issued two final rules aimed at boosting bulk power system resilience by improving how grid operators assess and plan for extreme weather impacts to the transmission system. One rule directs NERC to develop a reliability standard that requires transmission system planners to account for a range of extreme weather conditions, and the other rule directs each FERC-jurisdictional transmission provider to submit an informational report to the Commission that outlines its policies and processes for conducting extreme weather vulnerability assessments.Continue Reading FERC Directs NERC to Develop New Transmission Planning Reliability Standard; Directs Transmission Providers to Submit One-Time Informational Reports on Extreme Weather Risk Assessment

On February 16, 2023, FERC addressed arguments raised on rehearing of its August 31, 2022, order accepting Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) proposal to establish a seasonal resource adequacy construct with availability-based resource accreditation (“August 2022 Order”). In doing so, FERC continued to find that MISO’s proposed transition from an annual planning resource auction to an independent auction to meet seasonal requirements is just and reasonable.Continue Reading On Rehearing, FERC Accepts MISO’s Seasonal Resource Adequacy Construct