On January 19, 2023, FERC established that a facility’s classification as transmission or distribution under criteria established in the Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) can be overcome in a challenge at the Commission if the protestors provide sufficient evidence to call into question the classification under the Tariff criteria. FERC found that once protestors present evidence that the facilities are distribution under FERC’s seven-factor test, the burden of proof shifts back to the filing transmission provider and transmission owner seeking a specific classification under Section 205 of the Federal Power Act to demonstrate its proposed classification under FERC’s seven-factor test. FERC found that GridLiance High Plains, LLC (“GridLiance”), as the applicable transmission owner, failed to carry this burden to demonstrate its facilities at issue were transmission facilities after such a challenge.

Continue Reading FERC Affirms Burden of Persuasion Rests on Proponents of Transmission Asset Classifications under FERC’s Seven-Factor Test, Notwithstanding Tariff Classifications

On December 16, 2022, FERC again rejected the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. (“MISO”) proposal for Transmission Owners to self-fund Necessary Upgrades to connect Merchant High Voltage Direct Current (“HVDC”) transmission lines into MISO and addressed arguments on rehearing. Commissioner Danly dissented and Commissioner Christie concurred in separate statements. Chairman Glick did not participate.

Continue Reading On Rehearing FERC Again Rejects MISO Proposal for Transmission Owners to Self-Fund Necessary Upgrades to Connect Merchant HVDC Lines

On November 18, 2022, FERC accepted a September 19, 2022 proposal from the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) to correct “excessively high” payments being made to electric storage resources that are forced to discharge to meet state of charge requirements when providing ancillary services. The proposal also aims to encourage those resources to reflect opportunity costs through their ancillary services bids rather than energy bids.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts CAISO Proposal to Correct Payment Overcollections by Storage Resources

On November 17, 2022, FERC approved an application authorizing Commonwealth LNG, LLC (“Commonwealth”) to site, construct, and operate a liquified natural gas (“LNG”) export terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The LNG facility’s authorization drew concurring opinions from four of the Commissioners.

Continue Reading FERC Authorizes Commonwealth LNG Export Facility

On November 2, 2022, FERC denied a complaint brought by the Iowa Coalition for Affordable Transmission (“ICAT”) alleging that ITC Midwest, LLC’s (“ITC Midwest”) capital structure, with a targeted 60%-40% equity-to-debt ratio, is unjust and unreasonable. FERC found that ICAT failed to demonstrate that ITC Midwest’s use of its actual capital structure to determine its equity ratio is unjust and unreasonable and that ICAT’s reliance on prior FERC precedent was misplaced. Given these findings, FERC declined to address ICAT’s arguments for a 53% equity ratio.

Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaint Against ITC Midwest’s Capital Structure

On August 31, 2022, FERC issued two orders regarding two proposals to revise the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) resource adequacy requirements. In the first order, FERC accepted MISO’s proposal to move to seasonal resource adequacy requirements rather than a single requirement based on the summer peak. MISO proposed this seasonal resource adequacy construct to address significant increases in emergency events that occur year-round, driven by factors including generation retirements, reliance on intermittent resources, outages resulting from extreme weather events, and declining excess reserve margin. MISO will implement the new seasonal resource adequacy construct in the next Planning Resource Auction (“Auction”) to be held in April 2023. In the second order, FERC rejected MISO’s proposal to require a Minimum Capacity Obligation for participants in MISO’s Auction (“MCO Proposal”).
Continue Reading FERC Approves MISO Seasonal Resource Adequacy Requirements but Rejects Minimum Capacity Obligation

On July 28, 2022, FERC proposed changes to its Uniform System of Accounts (“USofA”) in response to the growth of non-hydro renewable generation such as wind, solar, and storage and to codify accounting for renewable energy credits (“RECs”). FERC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) follows a Notice of Inquiry issued in January 2021 seeking comment on the appropriate accounting treatment for certain renewable energy assets (see January 28, 2021 edition of the WER). Comments on the NOPR are due 45 days from its publication in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes Revised Accounting Rules to Address Renewables

On June 16, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) focused on updating procedures for interconnecting large generating facilities (20MW and above) and small generating facilities (under 20MW). The NOPR proposes significant updates to FERC’s pro forma interconnection procedures, which were first established in the early 2000s. In the intervening years, however, the nation’s generation fleet has evolved, new technologies have emerged, and interconnection wait-times have steadily increased. The NOPR proposes various reforms to help address growing interconnection queue backlogs and process delays. Comments are due 100 days after the NOPR’s publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 130 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Below is a summary of the primary reforms outlined in the NOPR, which fall into three broad categories: (1) implement a first-ready, first-served cluster study process; (2) increase the speed of interconnection queue processing; and (3) incorporate technological advancements into the interconnection process. FERC’s proposed reforms are discussed further in the full summary, linked below.
Continue Reading Summary of FERC Interconnection NOPR

On May 19, 2022, FERC staff released its 2022 Summer Energy Market and Reliability Assessment (“Summer Assessment”). The Summer Assessment forecasts “higher than average” temperatures for the summer, which are expected to have a significant impact on demand for electricity, amid a continuation of extreme drought conditions in the West, and coming on the heels of the retirement of thousands of megawatts of baseload conventional resources.
Continue Reading FERC Staff Releases Annual Assessment Signaling Higher Energy Prices and Ongoing Operational Challenges During Extreme Weather Events

On April 29, 2022, the FERC rejected Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.’s (“MISO”) proposed tariff revisions that sought to “extend” MISO Transmission Owners’ option to self-fund transmission upgrades so as to apply to Necessary Upgrades to support the connection of Merchant High Voltage Direct Current (“MHVDC”) transmission into MISO. FERC found that MISO failed to show its proposal was just and reasonable because MISO argued that Network Upgrades and Necessary Upgrades were functionally identical yet only proposed to extend the self-funding option traditionally applied to Network Upgrades without also extending other funding options and protections for customers.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects MISO Proposal for Transmission Owners to Self-fund Necessary Upgrades to Connect Merchant HVDC Lines