On October 7, 2020, FERC affirmed its prior determination that certain demand response resources participating in the New York Independent System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) capacity markets—termed Special Case Resources (“SCRs”)—should be subject to an offer floor, and required revenues from some retail-level demand response programs to be included in the offer floor calculations. Specifically, FERC: 1) addressed requests for rehearing of its February 2020 Order directing NYISO to apply its buyer-side mitigation (“BSM”) rules to all SCRs that participate in NYISO’s Installed Capacity (“ICAP”) market; 2) accepted NYISO’s compliance filing clarifying the offer floor price calculation for SCRs and directed NYISO to submit a further compliance filing; and 3) found, on the basis of a paper hearing established in the February 2020 Order, that payments received under the Distribution Load Relief Programs (“DLRP”) qualify for exclusion from the calculation of SCR offer floors, but that payments received under the Commercial System Distribution Load Relief Programs (“CSPRs”) do not. Commissioner Richard Glick issued a strenuous dissenting opinion to FERC’s order.
Continue Reading FERC Subjects NYISO Demand Response Resources to Buyer-Side Mitigation Rules

On October 7, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (“Ninth Circuit”) vacated, as moot, two FERC orders asserting concurrent jurisdiction to review the disposition of certain Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation (“PG&E”) power purchase agreements (“PPAs”) that PG&E sought to reject through bankruptcy. In a brief memorandum decision, a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel explained that the orders had become moot when the bankruptcy court confirmed a reorganization plan that had PG&E assume, rather than reject, the PPAs. In the same decision, the Ninth Circuit vacated a related bankruptcy court order in which the bankruptcy court determined that FERC does not have concurrent jurisdiction with the bankruptcy courts over the rejection of such PPAs. In vacating the three orders, the Ninth Circuit expressed no opinion on the merits of the consolidated appeal, and left open the question of whether FERC and the bankruptcy courts have concurrent jurisdiction over wholesale power contracts in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Vacates FERC and Bankruptcy Court Orders, Avoiding Jurisdictional Dispute Over PPAs in Bankruptcy

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 30, 2020, FERC accepted the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) proposals to: 1) permit electric vehicle charging stations to participate in CAISO’s demand response program separately from their host facilities (“EV Proposal”); and 2) incentivize behind-the-meter energy storage in CAISO’s demand response programs to “load shift” by consuming energy during over supply conditions and returning that energy to the system during times of need (“Load Shifting Proposal”). FERC held that CAISO’s proposals would enhance its demand response programs, which compensate load, storage, and generation resources for curtailing their demand in response to CAISO’s instructions. FERC also found that the proposals would ensure that CAISO’s policies keep pace with rapidly evolving electric vehicle and behind-the-meter storage technologies, and would permit these resources to participate in the CAISO market under rules that capture their unique characteristics and benefits.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts CAISO Rules Enhancing Demand Response Program for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage Resources

On September 4, 2020, FERC rejected the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) proposed revisions to its buyer-side mitigation (“BSM”) rules that sought to prioritize storage, wind, solar, and other zero-emitting resources (“Public Policy Resources”) in NYISO’s Installed Capacity (“ICAP”) Market, rather than prioritizing new resources purely on a least-cost basis. While NYISO argued the state’s carbon and nitrogen oxide emissions reduction goals mean that a resource’s cost structure is no longer the best predictor of whether it will ultimately be developed, FERC held that NYISO’s proposal was unduly discriminatory because it prioritized Public Policy Resources over other non-Public Policy Resources. The decision sparked a dissent from Commissioner Richard Glick, who characterized FERC’s order as appearing to stake out the “radical” position that it is improper for NYISO to design its Tariff in a way that acknowledges state public policies, and a departure from FERC precedent focused on balancing the effects of state policies with measures to address how those policies affect capacity market prices.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects NYISO Buyer-Side Mitigation Proposal Aimed at Clean Energy Transition

On August 28, 2020, FERC issued a supplemental Notice of a Commission-led Technical Conference on state pricing for carbon dioxide emissions, commonly referred to as carbon pricing, in FERC-jurisdictional wholesale electric markets (“Conference”). The Conference is free and will take place online on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST.

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On July 22, 2020, FERC approved a mitigation proposal that Sun Jupiter Holdings, LLC (“Sun Jupiter”) and El Paso Electric Company (“El Paso”) (together, “Applicants”) submitted in response to FERC’s March 30, 2020 order (“March 2020 Order”) conditioning approval of Sun Jupiter’s merger with and into El Paso and requiring the Applicants to address the transaction’s adverse impact on competition in certain circumstances. FERC also dismissed, on procedural grounds, United States Senators Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Bernard Sanders (D-VT) (collectively, “Senators”) request for rehearing, and denied Public Citizen, Inc.’s  (“Public Citizen”) request for rehearing of FERC’s March 2020 Order.

Continue Reading FERC Approves Sun Jupiter’s and El Paso’s Mitigation Proposal, Dismisses U.S. Senators’ and Public Citizen’s Requests for Rehearing

On July 7, 2020, the PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) Planning Committee held an informational session on its State Agreement Approach, a transmission planning process that allows one or more states to request the studying and funding of new transmission projects within the PJM footprint to address identified public policy needs. The State Agreement Approach could help accommodate the anticipated growth in offshore wind generation by allowing states to submit transmission expansion or extension projects in the Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (“RTEP”) so long as the states agree to assume responsibility for project costs.
Continue Reading PJM Planning Committee Holds Stakeholder Meeting About Process for States to Fund New Transmission Projects

On June 18, 2020, FERC denied rehearing, but granted partial clarification, of a 2019 order addressing certain market power mitigation reforms proposed by the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”). In particular, FERC again rejected CAISO’s “Net Export Limit” proposal to enhance local market power mitigation in the western energy imbalance market (“EIM”). As FERC reiterated in its order, the Net Export Limit proposal could allow EIM resource owners to limit dispatch during periods of market power mitigation, resulting in unjust and unreasonable market outcomes.
Continue Reading FERC Denies CAISO’s Rehearing Request, and Grants Limited Clarification, Regarding CAISO’s EIM Net Export Limit Proposal

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