On January 19, 2023, the Commission issued a final rule that directs the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop and submit reliability standards for monitoring high and medium impact bulk electric systems with high-speed internet connections. The Commission stated that the new reliability standards would assist entities in monitoring network traffic inside the bulk electric systems and detecting unauthorized activity inside those systems.

Continue Reading FERC Directs NERC to Develop Internal Network Security Monitoring for High and Medium Impact Bulk Electric System Cyber Systems

On November 17, 2022, FERC issued three orders intended to address the reliability impacts of the rapid integration of inverter-based resources (“IBRs”), including solar, wind, fuel cell, and battery storage resources, on the Bulk-Power System (“BPS”). Specifically, in the first proceeding, FERC directed the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop a plan to register the entities that own and operate IBRs so that NERC may monitor their compliance with NERC’s Reliability Standards. In the second proceeding, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to direct NERC to develop new or modified Reliability Standards that address reliability gaps related to IBRs. Lastly, in the final proceeding, FERC approved revisions to two of NERC’s Reliability Standards.

Continue Reading FERC Issues Proposals Regarding Inverter-Based Resources to Improve Grid Reliability

On August 31, 2022, FERC issued two orders regarding two proposals to revise the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (“MISO”) resource adequacy requirements. In the first order, FERC accepted MISO’s proposal to move to seasonal resource adequacy requirements rather than a single requirement based on the summer peak. MISO proposed this seasonal resource adequacy construct to address significant increases in emergency events that occur year-round, driven by factors including generation retirements, reliance on intermittent resources, outages resulting from extreme weather events, and declining excess reserve margin. MISO will implement the new seasonal resource adequacy construct in the next Planning Resource Auction (“Auction”) to be held in April 2023. In the second order, FERC rejected MISO’s proposal to require a Minimum Capacity Obligation for participants in MISO’s Auction (“MCO Proposal”).
Continue Reading FERC Approves MISO Seasonal Resource Adequacy Requirements but Rejects Minimum Capacity Obligation

On July 28, 2022, FERC upheld changes to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) Reserve Market that it first required in a December 2021 order on voluntary remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”). FERC’s July 28 order continues to require PJM to: (1) consolidate its Tier 1 and Tier 2 Synchronized Reserve Products; (2) align reserve procurement in the day-ahead and real-time markets by establishing two 10-minute reserve requirements and one 30-minute reserve requirement in each market; (3) revert back to a stepped Operating Reserve Demand Curve (“ORDC”) and $850/MWh Reserve Penalty Factors; and (4) revert to a backward-looking Energy & Ancillary Services (“E&AS”) Offset in the Net Cost of New Entry calculation. The July 28 order also addressed challenges to the December 2021 order on the basis that the motion for voluntary remand was not filed in the D.C. Circuit pursuant to FERC’s tradition of polling the Commissioners for major litigation decisions. The order makes certain clarifications on the Chairman’s role to oversee the executive and administrative operation of FERC, including the direction of litigation. Commissioner James Danly filed a separate dissenting statement.
Continue Reading FERC Upholds PJM Reserve Market Changes, Clarifies Chairman’s Role to Oversee Major Litigation Decisions

On June 16, 2022, FERC issued two Notice of Proposed Rulemakings (“NOPRs”) aimed at improving the reliability of the bulk power system against threats of extreme weather. The NOPRs build on the June 2021 Technical Conference on Climate Change, Extreme Weather, and Electric System Reliability, which revealed an industry-wide need to assess current vulnerabilities of the transmission system to weather-related risks.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes Rules to Address Extreme Weather

On May 27, 2022, a divided FERC ultimately agreed to allow ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) to sunset its current minimum offer price rule (“MOPR”) as part of its capacity market. During the next two capacity auctions, ISO-NE will permit a specified quantity of resources to enter the market without being subject to buyer-side market power mitigation review.  Thereafter, ISO-NE will replace the current MOPR with a reformed buyer-side market power mitigation construct (the “MOPR Reforms”). Each of the five commissioners wrote separately, with Chairman Richard Glick, Commissioners Allison Clements and Willie Phillips, and Commissioner Mark Christie writing in concurrence and Commissioner James Daly writing in dissent.
Continue Reading A Divided FERC Accepts ISO-NE’s Request to End its MOPR in Two Years

On November 26, 2021, FERC issued a notice stating that it would not review a Notice of Penalty filed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) against Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (“OVEC”). FERC’s November 26 notice effectively approves a $300,000 settlement between OVEC and the regional reliability entity, ReliabilityFirst Corporation (“RF”), for violations of NERC reliability standards FAC-003-4 R2 and FAC-003-4 R6, which address vegetation management. The settlement followed a 4.5-hour outage to one of OVEC’s 345 kV transmission lines in September 2018 that resulted when contact with a cedar tree growing in close proximity tripped the line out of service. OVEC neither admitted nor denied the violations, but agreed to the assessed $300,000 penalty.
Continue Reading FERC Approves $300,000 Settlement Between ReliabilityFirst and Ohio Valley Electric Corp. for Violations of NERC Reliability Standards

On November 16, 2021, staff from FERC, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”), and certain Regional Reliability Entities issued a final report on the 2021 winter storms that severely impacted the bulk electric systems in Texas and the South Central United States. The report recommended, among other things, strengthening regulations and the grid for cold weather preparedness and enhancing coordination between natural gas and electric systems to prevent winter blackouts.
Continue Reading FERC and NERC Issued Final Report on the 2021 Winter Freeze

On October 25, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released a report regarding the lessons learned from the electric industry’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. NERC’s report described the industry’s response and provided possible solutions and paths for the industry’s future based on its findings.

Continue Reading NERC Issues Report on Lessons Learned from Utilities Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On September 23, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) Staff released their report and recommendations regarding the 2021 Winter Freeze during the September Open Meeting at FERC. In this joint review, Staff reviewed what happened during the freeze, what caused the failure, and outlined various recommendations to prevent similar events in the future.
Continue Reading FERC and NERC Release Report and Recommendations Regarding 2021 Winter Freeze