On April 30, 2020, FERC accepted the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) proposed revisions to its Open Access Transmission Tariff (“OATT”) and its Market Administration and Control Area Services Tariff intended to enhance the integration of its Generator Deactivation Process with its Reliability Planning Process. NYISO proposed to establish a Short-Term Reliability Process using quarterly Short-Term Assessment of Reliability (“STAR”) studies that simultaneously evaluate the reliability impact of both generator deactivations and other changes that may impact transmission facilities (“Proposal”). FERC found that the Proposal will enhance NYISO’s current Generator Deactivation Process into a more efficient and comprehensive Short-Term Reliability Process.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts NYISO’s Proposed Tariff Revisions Regarding Its Short-Term Reliability Process

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 17, 2020, FERC denied Potomac Economics, Ltd.’s (“Potomac Economics”) complaint against PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (”PJM”), which alleged that PJM’s rule requiring external generation resources to obtain a pseudo-tie in order to participate in PJM’s capacity market was unjust and unreasonable (“Complaint”). FERC found that Potomac Economics failed to show that PJM’s pseudo-tie requirement had caused market inefficiencies or harmed reliability and that any arguments regarding potential future harms to the New York System Operator, Inc. (“NYISO”) by the pseudo-tie requirement were speculative. FERC also denied PJM’s motion to dismiss the Complaint, finding that market monitors may file complaints under Federal Power Act (“FPA”) section 206, provided that such market monitors satisfy the requirements of FERC’s relevant regulations.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Complaint Alleging PJM’s External Resource Pseudo-Tie Requirements Are Unjust and Unreasonable

On April 22, 2020, FERC accepted tariff revisions from Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (“SPP”) to comply with a October 17, 2019 order accepting in part SPP’s Order No. 841 compliance proposal (the “October Order”). FERC also directed SPP to submit a further compliance filing to specifically exempt run-of-the-river hydroelectric, wind, and solar resources from the continuous minimum run-time requirement under SPP’s Resource Adequacy tariff provisions and Planning Criteria.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts SPP Resource Adequacy Compliance Filing, Subject to Further Compliance

On April 16, 2020, FERC denied rehearing of an April 2019 order approving changes to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Variable Resource Requirement (“VRR”) demand curve in connection with PJM’s 2019 Base Residual Auction for the 2022/2023 Delivery Year (see April 24, 2019 edition of the WER for more background on the April 2019 order and the PJM’s VRR curve). Among other issues, FERC’s April 2020 order on rehearing rejected arguments that PJM erred in designating a combustion turbine (“CT”) power plant with a new H-class turbine configuration as the Reference Resource—a theoretical new generator that PJM uses as a benchmark to determine the cost of entering the market. In a lengthy dissent, Commissioner Richard Glick argued FERC’s decision is unsupported by substantial evidence and inconsistent with FERC precedent. According to Commissioner Glick, FERC’s approval of a CT Reference Resource and resulting Net Cost of New Entry (“CONE”) estimate will lead to host of issues, including distorting PJM’s entire capacity market design and harming consumers by increasing rates.
Continue Reading FERC Affirms Use of Combustion Turbine as Reference Resource for PJM VRR Demand Curve

On April 16, 2020, FERC issued two orders in the proceedings related to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Minimum Offer Price Rule (“MOPR”). First, FERC denied requests for rehearing and granted limited clarification with respect to its June 29, 2018 order (“Paper Hearing Order”) where it (i) found PJM’s then-existing tariff to be unjust and unreasonable because it failed to address the suppressive effect of resources receiving out-of-market payments on the capacity market, and (ii) implemented a paper hearing to establish a revised MOPR to apply to both new and existing resources receiving out-of-market payments, regardless of resource type (see July 11, 2018 edition of the WER). Second, FERC largely affirmed its December 19, 2019 order arising out of the paper hearing, in which it directed PJM to apply the MOPR to all state-subsidized capacity resources (“Replacement Rate Order”) (see December 20, 2019 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC Largely Affirms and Provides Limited Clarification and Rehearing on its Orders Requiring PJM to Apply the Minimum Offer Price Rule to All Resources Receiving State Subsidies

On April 13, 2020, numerous industry groups and business associations (“Industry Stakeholders”) submitted a joint request asking FERC to organize a technical conference or workshop to discuss potential issues with the implementation of state, regional, and national carbon pricing in regions with organized wholesale electric energy markets. The Industry Stakeholders proposed that the workshop examine both the mechanics needed to account for the implementation of carbon pricing as well as the mechanics that are already in place. Industry Stakeholders stated that such a conference could open a dialogue among stakeholders and interested parties regarding the opportunities and potential difficulties presented by carbon pricing.
Continue Reading Stakeholders Request FERC Technical Conference on Carbon Pricing

On April 10, 2020, FERC consolidated two separate dockets resulting from PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Order No. 841 compliance proceeding, and established paper hearing procedures to examine PJM’s methodology for calculating capacity values—not just for Electric Storage Resources (“ESRs”) participating in its capacity markets, but for all resource types, including run-of-river hydroelectric resources with and without reservoir storage capability. However, FERC held the proceedings in abeyance through October 30, 2020 to permit PJM and its stakeholders time to consider replacing the current capacity value calculation methodology with a new, Effective Load Carrying Capability (“ELCC”) approach. FERC concluded that the October 30 deadline would provide sufficient time to consider the new approach, while also allowing for new rules to become effective in advance of PJM’s next capacity auction. Commissioner Richard Glick issued partial dissent, explaining that he would have held the proceedings in abeyance until January 29, 2021.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes Hearing to Determine PJM Capacity Values; Holds Hearing in Abeyance Until October 2020

On April 7, 2020, FERC and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (“NARUC”), the national organization representing state public service commissions, sent a letter to the Federal Reserve supporting a request from the Edison Electric Institute (“EEI”), the American Gas Association and the National Association of Water Companies (together, the “Trade Groups”) to expand access to short-term debt available to the utility industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, as utilities are facing decreasing load and increasing bill nonpayment.
Continue Reading FERC and NARUC Join EEI and Other Trade Groups’ Request to the Federal Reserve to Expand Access to Short-Term Debt During the COVID-19 Crisis

On March 30, 2020, FERC issued an order establishing a paper hearing to evaluate Energy Harbor LLC’s (formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.) proposed rejection in bankruptcy of a variety of FERC-jurisdictional contracts (“Jurisdictional Contracts”). FERC’s order follows a recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordering the bankruptcy court to take public interest factors into account when reviewing the proposed rejection of the Jurisdictional Contracts, and to invite FERC to provide its opinion on the issue (see December 19, 2019 edition of the WER).  FERC initiated the paper hearing to consider these public interest factors.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes Paper Hearing on Proposed Rejection of FERC-Jurisdictional Contracts in Bankruptcy