On January 9, 2020, FERC rejected Constellation Mystic Power, LLC’s (“Mystic”) proposed amendment to its cost-of-service agreement (“Mystic Agreement”) with ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) that would have provided Mystic the option to unilaterally retire Mystic Generating Station units 8 and 9 (“Mystic Generators”).  FERC found that giving Mystic the option to retire the Mystic Generators early would pose an unacceptable risk to reliability.  Commissioner Glick concurred in part and dissented in part.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects Proposed Unilateral Termination Amendment Related to Mystic Generators

On January 14, 2020, FERC accepted revisions to ISO New England, Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) Transmission, Markets and Services Tariff (“Tariff”), which update ISO-NE’s Financial Assurance Policy, which aims to ensure that resources achieve commercial operation by the time their relevant Capacity Commitment Period begins.  The revisions alter the methodology used to calculate the financial assurances requirements for resources that have cleared the Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”) but have not yet achieved commercial operation (“Non-Commercial Resources”), basing it on the Net Cost of New Entry (“Net CONE”) value associated with the FCA, rather than the starting and clearing prices of the FCA.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts Revisions to ISO-NE’s Calculation of Financial Assurances Requirement for New Capacity Resources

On December 30, 2019, FERC accepted tariff revisions by the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) to apply three previously accepted-interim provisions designed to address the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility’s (“Aliso Canyon”) continued operational limitations and impacts on CAISO’s system.

Continue Reading FERC Accepts CAISO’s Tariff Revisions Addressing Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Constraints

On December 6, 2019, a bipartisan group of ten U.S. Senators wrote to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee asking for assurances that FERC fully appreciates the threat posed to the nation’s energy infrastructure by the use of equipment manufactured by Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (“Huawei”).  The letter praised FERC’s creation of a new cybersecurity division and expressed hope that the new division’s first objective would be defending the nation’s infrastructure against threats posed by the use of Huawei’s equipment.
Continue Reading Bipartisan Group of Senators Seek FERC Assurances Regarding Huawei Equipment Threat

On October 17, 2019, FERC issued its 2019-2020 Winter Energy Market Assessment (“Assessment”), which is a summary of staff’s expectations about market preparedness, including a high‐level assessment of the risks and challenges anticipated in the coming winter operating season. In its 2019-2020 Assessment, FERC highlighted that: 1) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) forecasts a warmer than average winter; 2) natural gas storage levels are expected to be average going into the winter; 3) natural gas futures prices are lower than last winter; 4) a diverse and changing generation resource mix will maintain electric reliability this winter; and 5) expected winter reserve margins exceed reference levels in all regions.

Continue Reading FERC Issues 2019-2020 Winter Energy Market Assessment

On October 17, 2019, FERC denied rehearing of its order denying a complaint filed by CXA La Paloma, LLC (“La Paloma”), which argued that the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) resource adequacy regime had become unjust and unreasonable. Stakeholders asserted, among other things, that FERC ignored certain evidence suggesting inadequate capacity prices would lead to near-term reliability problems; FERC disagreed, restating the evidence and arguments initially presented in the complaint, and explaining that based on the evidence presented it did not find CAISO’s resource adequacy regime unjust and unreasonable. In its order denying rehearing, FERC weighed in (again) on low capacity prices and reliability concerns in California, as well as the scope of its section 206 authority.     
Continue Reading According to FERC, CAISO’s Resource Adequacy Program is (Still) Alright

On October 4, 2019, FERC staff issued a report for users, operators, and owners of the bulk-power system to increase compliance with mandatory Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) standards and improve cybersecurity for the nation’s electric grid. In the report, FERC staff recommended, among other things, that entities:

  1. verify employees’ recurring authorizations for using removable media;
  2. ensure all employees and third-party contractors complete required trainings and properly maintain training records;
  3. consider all generation assets when categorizing bulk electric system cyber systems associated with transmission facilities; and
  4. review all firewalls to ensure there are no obsolete or overly permissive firewall access control rules in use.

Continue Reading FERC Staff Offer Recommendations for CIP Reliability Audits and Cybersecurity

On September 27, 2019, FERC approved CAISO tariff revisions to its voluntary Capacity Procurement Mechanism (“CPM”) and mandatory Reliability-Must-Run (“RMR”) framework such that all backstop procurement from resources that would otherwise retire or mothball will be addressed through CAISO’s RMR provisions. While FERC has traditionally considered RMR contracts as measures of last resort, FERC found it just and reasonable for CAISO to expand its use of such contracts to address evolving operational needs due, in part, to the increased penetration of variable energy resources in California. Commissioner Glick partially dissented, arguing that the approved tariff changes essentially provide CAISO “unchecked authority” to enter into out-of-market contracts to meet its resource adequacy needs.
Continue Reading FERC Allows CAISO to Expand use of RMR Contracts, Drawing Partial Dissent from Commissioner Glick

On September 4, 2019, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) published a Lessons Learned report (“Report”) analyzing a March 5, 2019 cybersecurity incident that caused brief communications outages across several states.  NERC also provided guidance on how to avoid the firewall firmware vulnerabilities that made the cybersecurity incident possible.
Continue Reading NERC Issues Lessons Learned Report Regarding March 5, 2019 Cybersecurity Incident

On August 30, 2019, FERC instituted a section 206 proceeding to require PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to revise its Amended and Restated Operating Agreement (the “PJM Operating Agreement”) in light of a recent reversal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the “D.C. Circuit”).  In the new section 206 proceeding, FERC is requiring PJM to revise the PJM Operating Agreement to include projects needed solely to address Form No. 715 local planning criteria in PJM’s competitive proposal process, or to show cause why such revisions are not required.  In a concurrent order on remand, FERC also rejected revisions to the PJM Transmission Owner Tariff that had previously been amended to clarify that 100 percent of the costs for projects that are included in the PJM Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (“RTEP”) solely to address individual transmission owner Form No. 715 local planning criteria should be allocated to the transmission owner’s transmission zone.  FERC expects to issue a final order on the section 206 proceeding within 180 days.
Continue Reading FERC Reverses Courses after years of litigation, Will Require PJM to Include Form 715 Transmission Projects in its Competitive Planning Process with Cost Sharing