On December 21, 2020, FERC modified its previous cost-of-service compensation decisions allowing Constellation Mystic Power, LLC (“Mystic”) to continue operating two gas-fired generation facilities (“Mystic 8 and 9”) fueled exclusively by an affiliate, Everett Marine Terminal (“Everett”), which, like Mystic, is owned by Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”). Commissioner Richard Glick dissented, reiterating his belief that FERC has exceeded its jurisdiction to “bail out” the liquified natural gas (“LNG”) import terminal.
Continue Reading FERC Alters Mystic’s Cost-of-Service Agreement; Commissioner Glick Dissents Again

On December 17, 2020, FERC issued an order concluding its review of the index level used to determine annual changes to oil pipeline rate ceilings, establishing an index level of Producer Price Index for Finished Goods plus 0.78% (PPI-FG+0.78%), and also issued a Withdrawal of Proposed Policy Statement on Oil Pipeline Affiliate Contracts, the latter of which drew a dissenting opinion from Commissioner Richard Glick.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes New Oil Index Level and Withdraws Proposed Affiliate Contract Guidance for Oil Pipelines

On November 19, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to reform its regulations and pro forma OATT to improve the accuracy and transparency of transmission line ratings. According to FERC, more accurate line ratings will reduce congestion costs and result in substantial cost savings for consumers, whereas inaccurate line ratings may result in unjust and unreasonable rates.
Continue Reading FERC Issues Proposed Rulemaking on Transmission Line Ratings

On November 30, 2020, in a late night voice vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Mark Christie and Allison Clements as FERC Commissioners. Once they are sworn in as Commissioners, the bipartisan pairing will fill the remaining two seats on the five-member Commission, with Christie occupying the seat last held by former Commissioner Bernard McNamee for a term ending on June 30, 2025 and Clements occupying the seat last held by Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur for a term ending on June 30, 2024.
Continue Reading Senate Confirms Christie and Clements to Fill Remaining Commission Seats

On November 19, 2020, FERC issued Order No. 872-A, an order denying rehearing and clarifying portions of Order No. 872, which revised the regulations implementing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). In Order No. 872-A, FERC affirmed its previous PURPA regulation amendments in Order No. 872, but provided further explanation regarding six key reforms: (1) states’ use of tiered avoided cost pricing; (2) states’ use of variable energy rates in qualifying facility (“QF”) contracts and availability of utility avoided cost data; (3) the role of independent entities overseeing competitive solicitations that set avoided cost rates; (4) the circumstances under which a small power production QF needs to recertify; (5) the application of the rebuttable presumption of separate sites for the purpose of determining the power production capacity of small power production facilities; and (6) the PURPA section 210(m) rebuttable presumption of nondiscriminatory access to markets and accompanying regulatory text.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing, But Clarifies Various Aspects of the New PURPA Rules

On November 5, 2020, FERC approved Southern California Edison Company’s (“SoCal Edison”) request to utilize a May 2020 formula rate sales forecast rather than its April 2020 sales forecast, as required by Appendix IX of SoCal Edison’s Transmission Owner Tariff (“Tariff”). The updated sales forecast, which informs SoCal Edison’s wholesale and retail transmission rate-recovery and true-up calculations, reflects a decrease in sales revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a dissenting opinion, then-Commissioner James Danly opposed the waiver, citing previous criticisms that such FERC action violates the filed rate doctrine and the rule against retroactive ratemaking (see October 28, 2020 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC Grants Formula Rate Tariff Waiver; Then-Commissioner Danly Reiterates Criticisms of Retroactivity

On October 28, 2020, FERC declined to abrogate or modify firm natural gas transportation service agreements (“Gulfport TSAs”) between Gulfport Energy Corporation (“Gulfport”) and Rockies Express Pipeline LLC (“Rockies Express”) in response to a Rockies Express petition anticipating a potential Gulfport bankruptcy filing. After an expedited paper hearing, FERC concluded that the public interest does not presently require any modification, and thus, that the Gulfport TSAs on file remain just and reasonable. In doing so, FERC found that Gulfport failed to provide the evidence needed under Mobile-Sierra for FERC to find that abrogation of the Gulfport TSAs would be in the public interest. FERC’s order also follows its recent determination that it shares concurrent jurisdiction with the Bankruptcy Court over abrogation or modification of gas transportation agreements (see July 1, 2020 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC Finds Abrogation of Gas TSAs Would Not Be in the Public Interest Ahead of Possible Bankruptcy Proceeding

On October 15, 2020, FERC issued a notice of proposed policy statement on state-determined carbon pricing in wholesale markets that clarified the agency’s jurisdiction over wholesale market rules incorporating state-determined carbon prices and encouraged regional market operators to consider establishing such rules. FERC is seeking comment on the type of information it should consider when reviewing any such filings. While the Commissioners agree that FERC has jurisdiction to review these issues under 205 with respect to organized markets, they have signaled a divide with respect to the best course of action for addressing carbon pricing.
Continue Reading Commissioners Clash Over Proposed Policy Statement on Carbon Pricing

On September 30, 2020, FERC held a technical conference focusing on how state-adopted carbon pricing intersects with a Regional Transmission Organization/Independent System Operator (“RTO/ISO”) administered market, and specifically what considerations a carbon-pricing framework may raise for FERC and/or the markets it oversees. The conference included three panels focused on: (i) the legal considerations associated with the integration of state carbon prices in FERC-regulated markets, including FERC’s statutory authority to implement carbon pricing in RTO/ISO markets and prior FERC precedent on RTO/ISO proposals to incorporate costs associated with state cap-and-trade programs, (ii) carbon pricing mechanisms, including current RTO/ISO initiatives to consider the integration of state carbon pricing actions and challenges for carbon pricing in multi-state RTO/ISO markets, and (iii) market design considerations, such as methods to reduce leakage and the potential operational impacts arising from carbon pricing. Finally, the technical conference concluded with a roundtable discussion reflecting on key issues and insights raised during the conference (see September 10, 2020 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC Holds a Technical Conference on Carbon Pricing in Organized Markets

On September 17, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comments on strategies to mitigate any potential risks to the bulk electric system posed by telecommunications equipment and services produced or provided by entities identified as risks to national security. Huawei Technologies Company (“Huawei”) and ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) have been identified as examples of such entities because they provide communication systems and other equipment and services that are critical to bulk electric system reliability.
Continue Reading FERC Opens Inquiry into Foreign Adversary-Provided Bulk Power System Telecommunications Equipment, Focusing on Huawei and ZTE Equipment Threat