On August 30, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order in NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc. v. Lake, a case raising dormant Commerce Clause challenges to a 2019 Texas law that bans new entrants from building transmission lines that are part of a multistate electricity grid.  The majority reversed the lower court’s Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of NextEra’s petition, thereby allowing the case to proceed to trial in district court.
Continue Reading 5th Circuit Holds that Texas Law Permitting Blocking of Competitive Transmission Owners from Building New Lines Violates the Commerce Clause

On August 19, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied a Petition for Review from LS Power and two other organizations (“Petitioners”) challenging FERC’s rejection of an earlier-submitted complaint against the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) method of allocating costs for certain transmission construction projects identified as Baseline Reliability Projects in MISO’s transmission planning process. As the D.C. Circuit determined, FERC’s rejection of the Petitioners’ complaint was not arbitrary and capricious, as the Petitioners had failed to demonstrate that MISO’s cost-allocation method was unjust and unreasonable.

Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Denies Transmission Developer Challenge to MISO Baseline Reliability Project Cost Allocation

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 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 30, 2022, in a 6-3 decision, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the majority, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in West Virginia v. EPA limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants. The Court’s decision could have significant implications for other executive branch agencies attempting to issue regulations that implicate “major questions.”
Continue Reading Supreme Court Decision in West Virginia v. EPA

On April 15, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Equity Action Plan (EAP) that introduces a two-year overhaul to review its policies to better promote equity and remove barriers to environmental justice communities.  In particular, for hydropower projects, the EAP will focus on:  (1) building and staffing its new Office of Public Participation, (2) strengthening Tribal government consultation and engagement policies and processes, (3) reviewing key regulations within the hydropower project licensing process, and (4) implementing equity readiness for staff to understand the EAP mission.
Continue Reading FERC Equity Action Plan and Hydropower Licensing

On May 31, 2022, FERC accepted and set for hearing Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) proposal to revise its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”) to establish a formula rate template (“Formula Rate”) on behalf of People’s Electric Cooperative (“People’s Electric”) when People’s Electric transfers functional control of its transmission facilities to SPP on June 1, 2022. The Commission granted People’s Electric’s request to include a 50-basis point adder for participating as a member of SPP, a regional transmission organization (“RTO”). Commissioner Christie wrote separately in concurrence to express his continued support for limiting the RTO participation adder to three years.
Continue Reading FERC Approves ROE Adder for SPP Membership, Prompting Statement from Commissioner Christie

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