On December 12, 2023, FERC staff offered information and recommendations to help registered entities (i.e., users, owners, and operators of the bulk electric system) improve their compliance with mandatory Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) reliability standards and their overall cybersecurity postures (the “Report”).  The recommendations are based on FERC staff’s non-public CIP audits of U.S.-based North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) registered entities during Fiscal Year 2023, which included the participation of NERC and the regional entities.  FERC staff found that registered entities generally met the mandatory requirements of the CIP Standards, although potential noncompliance and security risks remained. FERC staff also identified and made recommendations concerning other voluntary best practices that could improve cybersecurity.  FERC staff explained that the CIP standards aim to mitigate cybersecurity and physical security risks to the bulk electric system’s facilities and equipment.  The Commission approved the first set of eight mandatory CIP standards on cybersecurity on January 28, 2008, and has since revised the standards to respond to emerging cybersecurity issues.  FERC began its CIP standards audit program for registered entities in 2016 and has conducted CIP audits each year since.  Continue Reading FERC Staff Issues Report on Lessons Learned from 2023 CIP Audits

On December 1, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third Circuit”) upheld PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) latest minimum offer price rule (the “Focused MOPR”), denying challenges to both the substance of the rule and FERC’s “constructive” approval of the rule, which went into effect after the Commissioners deadlocked two-to-two and failed to issue a timely order accepting or denying the Focused MOPR. The Third Circuit held that a court’s review of FERC’s “action,” whether actual or constructive, proceeds under the same deferential standards in the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), and encompasses the Commissioners’ mandatory statements setting forth their reasoning for approving or denying the filing. On the merits, the Third Circuit held that FERC’s acceptance of PJM’s Focused MOPR policy was not arbitrary and capricious, pointing to arguments laid out in then-Chairman Glick’s and Commissioner Clements’ Joint Statement supporting the Focused MOPR.Continue Reading Third Circuit Upholds FERC’s Approval of PJM’s Focused MOPR

On November 16, 2023, FERC granted Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia’s (“Dominion”) petition requesting the Commission declare that Dominion’s planned liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) production, storage, and regasification facility (“Back-up Fuel Project” or “Project”) in Greensville County, Virginia would be exempt from the Commission’s jurisdiction under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”). In so doing, FERC determined the Project satisfied the “Hinshaw Exemption” under NGA section 1(c).Continue Reading FERC Finds Dominion LNG Back-up Fuel Project Satisfies Hinshaw Exemption Under the NGA

On September 29, 2023, FERC accepted part of Arizona Public Service Company’s (“APS”) proposed interconnection queue reforms to transition from a first come, first served cluster study process to a first ready, first served cluster study process. Generally, FERC accepted APS’s proposals that would prevent speculative projects from moving through the queue, while rejecting proposals that were not consistent with or superior to the pro forma Large Generator Interconnection Procedures (“LGIP”). APS’s interconnection queue reform proposal was submitted before FERC issued Order No. 2023; the approved reforms do not constitute APS’s Order No. 2023 compliance filing and are based on FERC’s currently effective pro forma LGIP.Continue Reading FERC Partially Accepts Arizona Public Service Company’s Proposed Interconnection Queue Reforms

On October 30, 2023, FERC accepted the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) revisions to its wheeling tariff provisions. The revised provisions allow external load serving entities to obtain, in advance, on a monthly and daily basis, rights to transmit electricity (also known as “wheeling”) through self-schedule priorities equal to the scheduling priority of CAISO demand. The revised provisions also update CAISO’s calculation of Available Transfer Capability (“ATC”).Continue Reading FERC Approves CAISO Revisions to Wheeling Through Priority Tariff Provisions, Amending ATC Calculations to Account for Transmission Capacity Needed to Serve Native Load

On September 21, 2023, the Commission approved, in part, PJM Interconnection L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed tariff revisions regarding the calculation of the Financial Transmission Right (“FTR”) credit requirement (“September Order”). PJM’s revisions, among other things, would calculate collateral based on a historical simulation model (“HSIM”) instead of a historical value model. FERC accepted the proposal with the exception of PJM’s proposed 97% confidence interval in the HSIM model, and instead required PJM to use a 99% confidence interval.Continue Reading FERC Directs PJM to Use a Historical Simulation Model with a 99% Confidence Level for its FTR Credit Requirement

On September 5, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“Ninth Circuit”), in Solar Energy Industries Association v. FERC, held that the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (“PURPA”) gives FERC broad discretion to evaluate which implementation rules are needed to encourage the development of qualifying small-scale renewable generating facilities. While the Ninth Circuit did not vacate FERC’s decision, it remanded the decision back to FERC for failing to conduct the proper National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) review. The decision stems from the Solar Energy Industries Association and several environmental organizations’ (collectively, “Petitioners”) challenge to Order Nos. 872 and 872‑A (collectively, “Order 872”), which were rules adopted by FERC that altered which small-scale renewable facilities qualify for benefits under PURPA and how those facilities are compensated (see July 20, 2020 edition of the WER).Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Finds that PURPA Gives FERC Broad Implementation Discretion, But Remands New Qualifying Facility Rules for Lack of NEPA Review

On July 13, 2023, FERC on rehearing set aside its prior order that had accepted Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposal to establish a case-by-case process to allocate, on a regional, postage-stamp basis, all of the costs of a transmission facility with a voltage level between 100 kV and 300 kV (“Byway facility”).  In setting aside its prior approval, FERC found that SPP’s Proposal granted the SPP Board too much discretion in allocating the costs of Byway facilities. Commissioners Mark Christie and James Danly each concurred with separate statements.  FERC’s rejection marked the second time SPP’s proposal failed to obtain Commission approval.Continue Reading FERC Reverses Course, Rejects SPP Byway Cost Allocation Proposal for Second Time

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 May 4, 2023, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hosted all four FERC Commissioners for an oversight hearing to focus on reliability in the face of (1) cyber-attacks, (2) coal and natural gas plant retirements, (3) severe weather, and (4) subsidies, climate policies, and market signals that encourage more intermittent resources to come online.Continue Reading FERC Commissioners Answer to Senate Committee on Fleet Transformation and Other Pressing Issues