On September 17, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comments on strategies to mitigate any potential risks to the bulk electric system posed by telecommunications equipment and services produced or provided by entities identified as risks to national security. Huawei Technologies Company (“Huawei”) and ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) have been identified as examples of such entities because they provide communication systems and other equipment and services that are critical to bulk electric system reliability.
Continue Reading FERC Opens Inquiry into Foreign Adversary-Provided Bulk Power System Telecommunications Equipment, Focusing on Huawei and ZTE Equipment Threat

On July 17, 2020, FERC issued three orders relating to the executed cost-of-service agreement (“Mystic Agreement”) among Constellation Mystic Power, LLC (“Mystic”), Exelon Generation Company, LLC (“Exelon”), and ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”).  The Mystic Agreement provides for cost-of-service compensation to Mystic for the continued operation of two gas-fired generating units.  In the first two orders, FERC addressed requests for rehearing of its 2018 orders accepting the Mystic Agreement (the “July 2018 Order” and the “December 2018 Order”), including its conclusion that Mystic should recover from ratepayers 91% of the operating costs of the Everett Marine Terminal (“Everett”), a non-jurisdictional liquified natural gas import terminal.  In its third order, FERC accepted in part a Mystic compliance filing submitted in response to the December 2018 Order.  Commissioner Glick issued dissents to each of the July 17 orders.  Commissioner Glick concluded that FERC was forcing consumers to pay the full cost of service for Mystic in order to “bail out” Everett, and that each of the orders exceeded FERC’s jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).

Continue Reading Divided FERC Permits Mystic to Recover Operating Costs of Non-Jurisdictional LNG Terminal

On July 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a request for information (“RFI”) seeking public input on the energy industry’s current risk mitigation practices with regard to the bulk-power system supply chain. The DOE issued the RFI pursuant to Executive Order No. 13920 (“Executive Order”), wherein the Secretary of Energy was directed, among other things, to investigate the bulk power system for equipment presenting a risk from foreign adversaries (see May 5, 2020 edition of the WER). In the RFI, DOE asks stakeholders to identify potential vulnerabilities in the bulk-power system supply chain that could have national security implications and the estimated economic costs of implementing the Executive Order.
Continue Reading DOE Requests Information on Bulk Power System Vulnerabilities Pursuant to Executive Order

On June 18, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) requesting comment on whether the currently-effective Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards adequately address: (i) cybersecurity risks pertaining to data security; (ii) detection of anomalies and events; and (iii) mitigation of cyber security events. FERC also seeks comment on the potential risk of a coordinated cyberattack on geographically distributed targets and whether Commission action, including potential modifications to the CIP Reliability Standards, would be appropriate to address such risk. In addition, FERC staff issued a White Paper seeking comment on a potential new framework for providing transmission incentives to utilities for their cybersecurity investments.
Continue Reading FERC Seeks Comment on Potential Enhancements to CIP Reliability Standards and Potential Transmission Incentives Framework for Cybersecurity Investments

On May 29, 2020, FERC accepted the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) proposed update to its capacity procurement mechanism (“CPM”) compensation for offers above the soft offer cap, where a participating resource will be compensated at the resource’s going-forward fixed costs plus a 20 percent adder. The new CPM compensation formula will go into effect June 1, 2020. Commissioner Richard Glick dissented, stating that while he agreed that CPM compensation should be determined by a resource’s going-forward fixed costs, CAISO had failed to show that the 20 percent adder was just and reasonable.
Continue Reading CAISO Updates Capacity Procurement Mechanism Compensation for Offers Above the Soft Cap

On May 1, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order No. 13920 (“Executive Order”) prohibiting Federal agencies and U.S. persons from engaging in certain “transactions” defined thereunder—specifically, acquiring, importing, transferring, or installing certain items defined in the Executive Order as “bulk-power system electric equipment”—with “foreign adversaries.” Such equipment classifications and types are specified in the order and include “items used in bulk-power substations, control rooms, or power generating stations.” The prohibitions apply to transactions involving such equipment if such items are (i) designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by a foreign adversary, or by persons under the control, direction, or jurisdiction of such adversaries and where (ii) such equipment pose an unacceptable risk to national security and America’s safety.
Continue Reading Executive Summary of Executive Order 13920 — Securing the U.S. Bulk-Power System

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 17, 2020, FERC granted the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (“NERC”) request to defer implementing several Commission-approved Reliability Standards that have effective dates or phased-in implementation dates in the second half of 2020. NERC argued the deferred implementation would not hamper grid reliability but would instead allow NERC-registered entities additional flexibility to continue prioritizing worker safety and reliability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading FERC Defers Implementation of Certain NERC Reliability Standards, Citing COVID-19

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 April 2, 2020, FERC issued several orders aimed at helping regulated entities manage compliance deadlines and related issues in the wake of COVID-19 response.  Chairman Neil Chatterjee also issued a press release confirming the pandemic qualifies as an emergency under the Commission’s rules and detailing additional steps in FERC’s plan to help regulated entities manage potential enforcement and compliance-related burdens during the pandemic, including two new task forces to expedite standards of conduct waiver requests and no-action letters.
Continue Reading FERC Relieves Regulatory Burdens and Creates New Task Forces Due to COVID-19 Pandemic