On September 17, 2020, FERC issued a final rule (“Order No. 2222”) amending its regulations to require Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (“RTO/ISO”) to revise their tariffs to facilitate the participation of distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregations in organized wholesale electric markets. In the order, FERC found current RTO/ISO DER aggregation market rules to be unjust and unreasonable, established new definitions for DERs and DER aggregations, and detailed RTO/ISO tariff revisions that will allow DER aggregations to participate in RTO/ISO markets. Commissioner Danly dissented from the order, contending that FERC was overextending its jurisdictional authority and that, through the order, FERC was imprudently encouraging “resource development by fiat.” RTO/ISOs are required to file the tariff changes needed to comply with Order No. 2222 within two hundred seventy (270) days of publication of the order in the Federal Register.
Continue Reading FERC Opens Door for Participation of Distributed Energy Resource Aggregations in Wholesale Electric Markets

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.

The

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) has proposed to revise its Part 12 dam safety regulations through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) released at its monthly public meeting on July 14, 2020.  There will be a 60-day public comment period once the proposed regulations are published in the Federal Register.  The proposed revisions contain three major changes to the existing FERC dam safety regulations:
Continue Reading FERC Proposes Overhaul of Dam Safety Regulations

Executive Summary of FERC Order No. 872: Qualifying Facility Rates and Requirements Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 [1]

I. Overview

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) issued Order No. 872, the Commission’s final order revising its regulations implementing Sections 201 and 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) [2]. This order, which follows a 2016 technical conference on PURPA issues and a September 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) [3], is the first major set of revisions to FERC’s regulations implementing PURPA since they were established through Order No. 69 in 1980.

As FERC explained in the NOPR, the energy landscape has evolved in significant ways since the initial PURPA regulations were established, which includes increased supplies of natural gas, a more matured renewables industry, and the growing presence of non-Qualifying Facility (QF) independent power producers. These and other changes prompted FERC to revise its PURPA regulations, many of which are implemented by the states. These new changes provide additional guidance to state commissions regarding PURPA implementation and rests additional authority in state commissions regarding QF rates and contract terms.
Continue Reading Analyzing FERC’s Order Updating PURPA Regulations for First Time in Almost 40 Years

On July 1, 2020, FERC’s new rules for physical filings became effective.  The rules require that all physical filings and submissions delivered to FERC other than those sent via the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”), be sent to an off-site security screening facility (see September 17, 2019 edition of the WER).
Continue Reading FERC’s New Rules for Physical Filings Become Effective

On April 23, 2020 the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Report and Order adopting rules to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band—a band of airwaves used for communications in the operation of electric, oil, natural gas, and water companies—also available for unlicensed use by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-connected consumer products. The FCC stated that expanding unlicensed broadband operations would provide opportunity for innovation and improve broadband speed and connectivity. The FCC also adopted an Automated Frequency Coordination (“AFC”) system to prevent unlicensed use from interfering with incumbent users including utilities. The Report and Order follows a December 2019 letter from FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioners Richard Glick and Bernard McNamee to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, urging the FCC to consider additional testing of the AFC system to guarantee that unlicensed devices do not interfere with incumbent users.
Continue Reading FCC Approves Unlicensed Use of Airwaves Used in Utility Operations

On April 16, 2020, FERC addressed the American Public Power Association (“APPA”) and Exelon Corporation and its public utility subsidiaries (collectively, “Exelon Companies”) requests for rehearing and clarification of Order No. 864.  Specifically, FERC:

  • granted in part APPA’s request, clarifying that public utilities with stated transmission rates are required to use some ratemaking method to appropriately account for excess or deficient accumulated deferred income taxes (“ADIT”) resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), which will be subject to review in the utility’s next rate case;
  • confirmed that, consistent with prior precedent, any excess or deficient ADIT will not result in a windfall to either shareholders or ratepayers of public utilities with stated transmission rates; and
  • denied Exelon Companies’ request for rehearing, reaffirming Order No. 864’s requirement that public utilities with transmission formula rates return to customers the full amount of excess ADIT resulting from TCJA.


Continue Reading FERC Reaffirms Obligations Requiring Public Utilities to Address Excess and Deficient Income Taxes Resulting from Tax Act Changes

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

On January 10, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published the long-awaited proposed rule to amend its regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).  The statute, sometimes pejoratively referred to as a “paper-tiger,” requires a federal agency to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of certain proposed projects, but