On October 25, 2022, FERC declined to act on a petition for enforcement against California’s rules for solar installations implemented pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”). As a result, ongoing federal litigation against the California rules will continue.

Continue Reading FERC Declines to Act on California Rooftop Solar PURPA Petition

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 October 20, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an Order rejecting a request by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) seeking a rehearing of a Justification Order.  FERC’s Order declining rehearing comes after an October 7, 2020 filing where Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. (“Tri-State”) filed its justification for spot market sales that exceeded the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (“WECC”) soft price cap of $1,000/MWh during the summer months of 2020.  On May 20, 2022, the Commission issued an order finding that Tri-State had sufficient justification for certain spot market sales above the soft price cap but had not justified amounts charged above the relevant index price.  Ultimately, the Commission rejected the CPUC’s rehearing request.

Continue Reading FERC Affirms Use of Certain Price Indices for Justifying Prices above WECC Soft Price Cap

On September 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued an opinion in Save the Colorado, et al. v. Spellmon. The case arose from various conservation group challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) decision to grant the city and county of Denver, acting through its Board of Water Commissioners (Denver Water or municipality), a discharge permit to expand the reservoir of its Gross Reservoir Hydroelectric Project, which is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission). The central issue revolved around whether the U.S. courts of appeals have exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to non-FERC decisions arising under statutes related to the development of hydropower projects under the Federal Power Act (FPA). The Tenth Circuit ultimately held that petitions against orders by non-FERC agencies do not warrant exclusive jurisdiction in the U.S. courts of appeals.

Continue Reading Tenth Circuit Resolves Jurisdictional Dispute, Finds FPA Jurisdictional Limit Does Not Apply to Non-FERC Agency Orders

On August 30, FERC plans to hold a virtual workshop to discuss how members of the public (including customers and consumer advocates) can better participate in hydroelectric proceedings. The workshop is part of Commission’s increased focus on stakeholder engagement and environmental justice.

Continue Reading FERC Focuses on Public Participation in Hydroelectric Proceedings

On July 28, 2022, FERC proposed a new “duty of candor” rule that would broadly apply to “all entities communicating with the Commission or other specified organizations related to a matter subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.” According to the Commission, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) is intended to capture the types of communications that may not have been included in the Commission’s existing communication rules and policies, some of which have an existing duty of candor standard.

Continue Reading FERC Proposes a New, Broader Duty of Candor Rule

On June 24th and 27th, 2022 FERC approved two stipulations and consent agreements between FERC’s Office of Enforcement (“Enforcement”) and two separate project developers. First, sPower Development Company, LLC (“sPower Devco”) agreed to a civil penalty of $24,000 after Enforcement determined that sPower Devco violated PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM’s”) Tariff by submitting inaccurate information in PJM’s interconnection process. Second, Salem Harbor Power Development LP (“Harbor Power Devco”) agreed to a civil penalty of $17 million, to disgorge $26.7 million in profits, and to submit to compliance monitoring after Enforcement found that it collected capacity revenues on a project that had not yet been built nor was in commercial operation.

Continue Reading Generation Project Developers Agree to Pay Civil Penalties, Disgorge Profits, after FERC Enforcement Investigations

On April 21, 2022, FERC issued an order assessing a civil penalty of $600,000 to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro, LLC (“Ampersand”), licensee for the 595 kilowatt (kW) Cranberry Lake Hydroelectric Project in St. Lawrence County, New York, for violation of Article 5 of the project’s license, which requires a licensee to retain possession of all project property covered by the license.
Continue Reading FERC Assesses $600,000 Civil Penalty to Hydro Licensee

On March 28, 2022 and March 29, 2022, FERC issued two orders approving stipulation and consent agreements between FERC’s Office of Enforcement and Dynegy Marketing and Trade, LLC (“Dynegy”) and Constellation NewEnergy Inc. (“Constellation”), respectively. Among other things, Dynegy agreed to pay a $450,000 civil penalty for alleged violations of PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) capacity tariff requirements, and Constellation agreed to pay a $2.4 million civil penalty for alleged violations of California Independent System Operator Corp. (“CAISO”) resource adequacy tariff requirements.
Continue Reading FERC Approves Civil Penalties for Alleged Violations of CAISO and PJM Market Rules

On January 5, 2022, FERC denied a motion of the Andrew Kittell Estate (“Kittell Estate”) to drop FERC’s enforcement action against GreenHat Energy, LLC (“GreenHat”) because of an October 1, 2021 revelation that FERC’s decisional staff had improperly communicated with FERC enforcement litigation staff (“Email Exchange”) regarding the GreenHat enforcement proceeding, potentially violating FERC’s Separation of Functions regulations (“January 5 Order”). In the January 5 Order, however, FERC abstained from deciding whether the Email Exchange violated Commission regulations, finding that “the conduct at issue here would not warrant the extraordinary remedy of dismissal,” which sparked a dissent from Commissioner Danly, who “would have explicitly found that the email exchange . . . was inappropriate, ordered the two attorneys barred from all future involvement in this matter, and directed Commission staff to conduct a robust, public investigation with findings to be set forth in a later Commission order.”
Continue Reading FERC Denies Motion to Drop Enforcement Action in GreenHat Proceeding, Sparking Dissent from Commissioner Danly