Photo of Russell Kooistra

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 September 2, 2021, FERC accepted a new Market Seller Offer Cap (“MSOC”) in the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) capacity market that will require all capacity market sellers offering above $0/MW-day to, at their election, obtain approval for their offer from PJM’s Market Monitor or utilize a default MSOC equal to the resource’s applicable gross Avoidable Cost Rate (“ACR”)—i.e., its annual operating costs—less the resource’s net energy and ancillary services (“E&AS”) revenues (“ACR Proposal”). Commissioner James Danly issued a separate dissenting statement in which he argued that the ACR Proposal will lead to over-mitigation, in part because it will require the Market Monitor to review a higher number of capacity offers than under PJM’s previously-effective MSOC. In a compliance filing on FERC’s September 2 order, PJM asked for a 55-day delay of its upcoming capacity auction (currently scheduled to begin December 1, 2021) in order to allow time for the Market Monitor to perform the required unit-specific review under the new MSOC. As of this writing, FERC has not yet acted on PJM’s request.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts Replacement Offer Cap for PJM Capacity Markets; PJM Requests Capacity Auction Delay to Implement New Offer Cap

On August 27, 2021, in Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company v. FERC, Case No. 20-1062, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied petitions for review of FERC’s orders involving the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) process for reimbursing certain of its customers for transmission system upgrades that those customers paid for pursuant to Attachment Z2 of SPP’s Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”). The D.C. Circuit’s order upheld FERC’s decision to deny retroactive waiver of Section I.7.1 of SPP’s Tariff—which provides that any billing adjustments must be made within one year after the charges were incurred—thus preventing SPP from implementing the Attachment Z2 revenue crediting process retroactively from 2008-2016. The court also upheld FERC’s orders requiring SPP to refund any charges it previously collected for the 2008-2016 period. Basing its decision on the filed rate doctrine, the court concluded that “the filed rate requirements are a formidable obstacle for entities regulated by FERC that wish to obtain retroactive relief from the terms of their tariff.”
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Denies Petitions for Review; Holds that the Filed Rate Doctrine Prevents SPP from Reimbursing Customers for Historical Transmission Upgrade Costs

On June 29, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by FERC under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) authorizes a private company to exercise eminent domain to condemn state-owned property.  In particular, the opinion holds that states cannot claim sovereign immunity from condemnation lawsuits filed by certificated pipelines against the state in order to take public land to construct, own, and operate an interstate gas pipeline project.    
Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules that PennEast, Gas Pipelines May Condemn State-Owned Land

On June 17, 2021, FERC set aside its previous decision in Order No. 2222-A that allowed state regulatory authorities to prohibit demand response resources from participating in distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregations in wholesale energy markets when the DER aggregation contains only demand response resources. As a result, upon the effective date of Order No. 2222-B, state regulatory authorities will be able to prohibit demand response resources from participating in all wholesale DER aggregations. However, FERC also stated that it will further consider the issue in the Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) proceeding established in Order No. 2222-A to consider whether to revise its regulations to remove the demand response opt-out established in Order Nos. 719 and 719-A. FERC also extended the comment period in the NOI proceeding to ensure an adequate opportunity for interested parties to comment on these issues. Finally, Order No. 2222-B clarified the appropriate restrictions to avoid double counting of services and the compensation of demand response resources that participate in DER aggregations. Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and James Danly wrote separate concurring opinions; Commissioner Mark Christie concurred in part and dissented in part.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Order No. 2222-B, Setting Demand Response Opt-Out for Further Consideration

On May 20, 2021, FERC issued a Show Cause Order directing GreenHat Energy, LLC (“GreenHat”) and its owners to show why they did not violate the Federal Power Act, FERC’s regulations, the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Tariff, and the PJM Operating Agreement by manipulating PJM’s Financial Transmission Rights (“FTR”) market, generating $13 million in unjust profits and imposing $179 million in losses on PJM members. FERC also directed GreenHat and its owners to file an answer with FERC within 30 days showing why they should not be required to disgorge $13 million in unjust profits, plus interest, and to pay civil penalties totaling $229 million. FERC’s order is accompanied by a report from FERC’s Office of Enforcement (“OE Report”). Commissioner James Danly issued a separate concurring statement.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Show Cause Order Directing GreenHat Energy to Respond to Market Manipulation Claims

On May 4, 2021, FERC issued Order No. 871-B, clarifying that the rule established in Order No. 871, which precludes FERC from authorizing natural gas pipeline companies to proceed with construction of approved pipeline projects, only applies until the earlier of either (a) the date that a qualifying rehearing request is no longer pending before FERC or (b) 90 days following the date that a qualifying request for rehearing may be deemed denied by operation of law. FERC also limited the application of this rule to requests for rehearing that raise issues reflecting opposition to project construction, operation, or need. Finally, FERC announced a general policy to stay Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) section 7 certificate orders during the rehearing period and pending resolution of any timely requests for rehearing. Commissioner James Danly dissented, arguing that the need for Order No. 871 is obviated by further developments on appeal of FERC’s practice of indefinite tolling orders before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) and that presumptively staying pipeline project construction is contrary to the NGA and is “bad policy.” Commissioner Mark Christie concurred with Order No. 871-B.

Continue Reading FERC Revises Policy on Authorizing Pipelines to Commence Construction Pending Requests for Rehearing of Certificate Orders

On March 24, 2021, FERC modified a December 17, 2020 order (“December Order”) while reaching the same overall result, allowing construction to recommence for a portion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (“Mountain Valley”) project located near Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. FERC determined that the Environmental Conditions in Mountain Valley’s certificate order did not preclude FERC from permitting Mountain Valley to resume construction on portions of its pipeline, even though certain federal authorizations that were vacated on appeal are still pending, and also reaffirmed that completing the construction would be preferable to temporary mitigation efforts. Chairman Richard Glick and Commissioner Allison Clements dissented, arguing that FERC cannot authorize Mountain Valley to resume construction while federal authorizations remain outstanding.
Continue Reading Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction to Resume over Opposition from Chairman Glick and Commissioner Clements

On January 20, 2021, President Joseph Biden issued Executive Order No. 13990 (“Executive Order”), which, among other things, suspended Executive Order 13920, “Securing the United States Bulk-Power System” (“Executive Order 13920”) until April 20, 2021 and directed all executive departments and agencies to review and take action to address all actions taken during former-President Donald Trump’s tenure in office that conflict with President Biden’s stated goals of improving public health, environmental protection, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, bolstering resilience to the impacts of climate change, and confronting the climate crisis.
Continue Reading President Biden Suspends Bulk Power System Executive Order; Directs Agencies to Address Public Health- and Climate-Related Rules

On January 21, 2021, President Biden named Richard Glick as the new FERC Chairman. Chairman Glick joined FERC as a Commissioner in 2017. He previously served as general counsel to the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and as Vice President of Government Affairs for Iberdrola’s renewable energy, electric and gas utility,

On January 4, 2021, Mark C. Christie was sworn in as FERC’s newest Commissioner. The Senate previously confirmed the nomination of Commissioner Christie, along with the nomination of now-current-Commissioner Allison Clements, in a late night voice vote on November 30, 2020 (see December 8, 2020 edition of the WER). With the swearing in of Commissioner Christie, FERC now has a full five-member Commission with three Republicans (Chairman Danly and Commissioners Chatterjee and Christie) and two Democrats (Commissioners Clements and Glick).
Continue Reading Mark C. Christie Sworn in as FERC Commissioner