On June 18, 2020, FERC denied a complaint by Anbaric Development Partners, L.L.C. (“Anbaric”) against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) alleging that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures denied meaningful open access interconnection service to Anbaric’s proposed offshore transmission projects (see December 11, 2019 edition of the WER). FERC’s June 18 order concluded that Anbaric failed to demonstrate that PJM’s transmission interconnection procedures are unjust and unreasonable, or that the requirements for merchant transmission projects are either inconsistent with open access transmission service or unreasonably limit transmission expansion. FERC also highlighted its upcoming technical conference to discuss offshore wind integration in organized markets (see June 24, 2020 edition of the WER). Commissioner Bernard McNamee issued a separate concurring statement in which he highlighted his support for the technical conference.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaint Against PJM Over Denial of Interconnection Service to Transmission Projects Seeking to Connect Offshore Wind

On June 17, 2020, FERC issued two notices of upcoming technical conferences. First, a Commissioner-led technical conference is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30, 2020 to discuss considerations related to state adoption of mechanisms to price carbon dioxide emissions, commonly referred to as “carbon pricing,” in regions with FERC-jurisdictional organized wholesale electricity markets. Second, a staff-led technical conference will be held on October 27, 2020 to: (i) discuss whether existing transmission, interconnection, and merchant transmission facility frameworks in Regional Transmission Organizations/Independent System Operators (“RTOs/ISOs”) can accommodate anticipated growth in offshore wind generation in a manner that safeguards open access transmission principles; and (ii) consider possible changes or improvements to the current framework should they be needed to accommodate such growth.
Continue Reading FERC to Convene Technical Conferences on Carbon Pricing and Offshore Wind Integration

In an order issued June 9, 2020, FERC accepted a proposal from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) to require certain solar generating facilities to respond to real-time dispatch signals by registering as Dispatchable Intermittent Resources (“DIRs”). Through MISO’s proposal, all solar resources entering commercial operation on or after March 15, 2020 must register as DIRs and become dispatchable by March 15, 2022, whereas solar resources in operation before March 15, 2020 have the option, but are not required, to obtain DIR registration. In accepting the proposal, FERC rejected arguments from one protestor that the proposal unduly burdened solar projects in late-stage development, finding that MISO’s proposed two-year transition period for such resources was reasonable.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts MISO Proposal to Require Dispatchable Intermittent Resource Registration for Solar Projects

On June 1, 2020, FERC issued an order on remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the “D.C. Circuit”) directing the Bonneville Power Administration (“Bonneville”) to return to Chehalis Power Generating, L.P. (“Chehalis”) refunded payments for reactive power supplied to Bonneville from August 1, 2005 through September 30, 2005. While FERC declined to require Bonneville to return the entire refund amount requested by Chehalis, it did provide interest calculated according to FERC’s interest regulation.
Continue Reading FERC Directs Bonneville to Pay Partial Refunds to Chehalis in Drawn-Out Reactive Power Dispute

On April 24, 2020, FERC largely upheld an earlier-issued order imposing additional transparency obligations on Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”), Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”), and PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) (collectively, “RTOs”) regarding the RTOs’ Affected Systems study processes. FERC declined to require holistic alignment of the RTOs’ interconnection study processes, but clarified that, in subsequent compliance filings, the Commission will scrutinize whether each RTO applies the Energy Resource Interconnection Service (“ERIS”) or Network Resource Interconnection Service (“NRIS”) modeling standards in a just and reasonable manner.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing, Partially Grants Clarification on MISO, SPP, and PJM Affected System Study Coordination Order

On April 27, 2020, FERC granted renewable energy company Goldman Sachs Renewable Power Marketing, LLC (“GSRPM”) authority to make wholesale sales of energy, capacity, and ancillary services at market-based rates. However, FERC also found GSRPM to be affiliated with the investment bank Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (“Goldman Sachs”). On the basis of that finding, FERC concluded that GSRPM would be subject to enhanced reporting requirements as a Category 2 Seller in the northwest region of the United States. The order reflects FERC’s increasing interest in the disclosure of corporate structure for purposes of affiliation determinations in market-based rate applications.
Continue Reading FERC Finds Renewable Project Company to be Affiliated with Goldman Sachs Investment Bank for Purposes of Market-Based Rate Analysis

On March 27, 2020, FERC denied NorthWestern Corporation’s (“NorthWestern” or the Company) petition for a declaratory order regarding Qualifying Facility (“QF”) avoided cost pricing during times of excess generation. In its petition, NorthWestern asked the Commission to determine that (1) when excess generation occurs, QF pricing should be set to zero, and (2) nothing in the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”), including the rule against non-discrimination in avoided cost pricing, permits establishing a rate in excess of the utility’s avoided cost. In exercising its discretion to deny the petition, FERC did not reject NorthWestern’s request on the merits, but rather, stated that whether avoided energy costs can be zero depends on the facts of the case, and that NorthWestern had failed to provide sufficient information to support its request.

Continue Reading FERC Declines Opportunity to Weigh in on Zero Avoided Cost Pricing under PURPA

On March 6, 2020, FERC rejected ISO New England Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) and the New England Power Pool Participants Committee’s proposed revisions to the ISO-NE Tariff intended to eliminate ISO-NE’s ability to retain a resource for local transmission reliability needs if that resource has been previously retained for fuel security purposes (“Proposed Tariff Revisions”). FERC found that the Tariff Revisions were not just and reasonable because they would limit ISO-NE’s ability to address potential future transmission reliability issues without alternative transmission solutions yet being in place.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects ISO-NE Tariff Revisions Preventing Further Retention of Retained Fuel Security Resources

On February 12, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued a notice stating that it will investigate and report on the potential economic effects of renewable energy commitments, including the role of renewable energy imports, in Massachusetts and the broader New England region as requested by the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives (“Committee”). The ITC intends to send the report to the Committee by January 25, 2021.
Continue Reading U.S. International Trade Commission to Investigate Impacts of Renewable Energy Imports in New England