On March 19, 2021, FERC set aside a September 1, 2020 order (“September Order”) that had upended 40 years’ worth of FERC precedent regarding how to determine the 80MW threshold for small power production qualifying facilities (“QFs”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). Specifically, FERC rejected the September Order’s denial of QF status to a hybrid photovoltaic solar and storage facility owned by Broadview Solar LLC (“Broadview”) as a result of the facility’s 160 MW gross capacity, as opposed to the facility’s 80 MW maximum net output or “send out.” After further consideration, FERC explained that it had erred by departing from and overturning its longstanding “send out” precedent. Commissioner Danly dissented, arguing that the September Order correctly applied PURPA in relying on gross power production capacity. Continue Reading FERC Reverses September 2020 Order, Reinstating Long-Standing “Send Out” Test for Small Power Production QF 80MW Threshold
On March 18, 2021, FERC issued Order No. 2222-A, setting aside its finding in Order No. 2222 that demand response resource participation in heterogeneous distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregations are subject to the opt-out and opt-in requirements of Order Nos. 719 and 719-A, as well as clarifying other requirements in Order No. 2222 concerning Qualifying Facility (“QF”) interconnection policies, restrictions to avoid double-counting services, and information sharing and criteria for the distribution utility review process. Concurrent with Order No. 2222-A, FERC also issued a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) seeking comment on whether to revise its more than a decade-old regulations requiring Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (“RTO/ISO”) not to accept bids from an aggregator of retail customers (“ARC”) where the relevant electric retail regulatory authority (“RERRA”) prohibits such customers’ demand response resources from being bid into organized markets (“Demand Response Opt-Out”). Specifically, the NOI applies only to regulations where an ARC aggregates the demand response of the customers of utilities that distributed more than four million megawatt-hours in the previous fiscal year and is intended to examine whether changing circumstances warrant revision of the Demand Response Opt-Out and whether the RTO/ISO market would benefit from including currently barred Demand Response Opt-Out resources.
On February 26, 2021, FERC accepted a proposal from Entergy Services, LLC (“Entergy”) to amend a wholesale rate schedule, the Unit Power Sales Agreement (“UPSA”), subject to refund and set the matter for hearing. FERC also instituted an investigation under section 206 of the FPA to allow customers to recover refunds associated with any further rate reduction, consolidated various related Entergy proceedings on accumulated deferred income taxes (“ADIT”), set a hearing procedure and held those procedures in abeyance pending the issuance of further FERC orders. Continue Reading FERC Sets Entergy’s Proposal to Amend the Unit Power Sales Agreement for Hearing to Determine Whether Customers Should Receive a Bigger Rate Decrease
On March 2, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) denied petitions for review of three FERC orders addressing cost allocation by PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) for a high-voltage transmission line connecting three nuclear power plants on Artificial Island in New Jersey to the Delmarva transmission zone (“Artificial Island Project”). In a 2016 order, FERC upheld PJM’s use of a hybrid cost allocation method including the “Solution Based DFAX” method to assign 90 percent of the costs of the Artificial Island Project to PJM’s Delmarva transmission zone; FERC reversed its position in a 2018 rehearing order. In dismissing the petitions for review filed by certain PJM transmission owners including Public Service Electric and Gas Company (“PSE&G”), the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, the D.C. Circuit’s March 2 opinion held that FERC reasonably concluded that assigning nearly 90 percent of the Artificial Island Project costs to the Delmarva transmission zone would not be commensurate with the benefits that zone received, and that FERC’s change in position was adequately explained and supported by substantial evidence. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Upholds FERC Cost Allocation Orders for PJM Artificial Island Transmission Project
On March 2, 2021, members of the United States House of Representatives introduced H.R.1512, the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act (“CLEAN Future Act”). The CLEAN Future Act, aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions by 2050 in concert with the target identified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C in order to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. H.R.1512 is a revision of draft legislation released in January 2020. Continue Reading House Introduces CLEAN Future Act – A Comprehensive Bill to Achieve A Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Economy by 2050
FERC is hosting a number of workshops and technical conferences over the next several months. These include the Resource Adequacy technical conference; Listening Tour for the Office of Public Participation; workshop on compliance with Order No. 860; conference on Electrification and the Grid; and a technical conference on the threats climate change poses to the grid. Read on for more information about each. Continue Reading Upcoming FERC Workshops and Technical Conferences
On February 18, 2021, FERC issued two orders terminating the proceedings stemming from the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Proposed Rule on Grid Reliability and Resilience (“Proposed Rule”). FERC previously established rulemaking proceedings in Docket No. RM18-1-000 to consider the proposed rule, which was submitted to FERC by the DOE in September 2017 pursuant to the Department of Energy Organization Act section 403 (“DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding”). FERC terminated the DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding on January 8, 2018 (see January 17, 2018 issue of the WER), instead opening an inquiry proceeding in Docket No. AD18-7-000 (“Inquiry Proceeding”) to evaluate the resilience of the bulk power system in the regions operated by regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) and independent system operators (“ISOs”). On February 18, 2021, FERC: 1) issued an order on rehearing that sustained its decision to terminate the DOE Proposed Rulemaking Proceeding in Docket No. RM18-1-000; and 2) terminated the Inquiry Proceeding in Docket No. AD18-7-000. Commissioner Neil Chatterjee issued a dissenting opinion in the order terminating the Inquiry Proceeding. Continue Reading FERC Sustains Prior Termination of Grid Reliability and Resilience Rulemaking Proceeding; Terminates Grid Resilience Inquiry Proceeding
On February 18, 2021, FERC denied a rehearing request for an order it issued in October of 2020 that stated that payments received under the Commercial System Distribution Load Relief Programs (“CSRPs”) may not be excluded from the offer floors for Special Case Resources’ (“SCR”) calculation under the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“NYISO”) buyer-side market power mitigation (“BSM”) rules. Although FERC denied the request for rehearing, FERC modified and set aside the October 2020 Order in part, finding that the identified CSRPs should be excluded from the calculation of SCR offer floors in NYISO. Commissioners Clements and Christie issued concurring opinions.
On February 18, 2021, FERC took action in a multi-year dispute over the PJM Interconnection’s capacity market pricing rule known as the Minimum Offer Price Rule (or, “MOPR”) by vacating a single troublesome footnote from its last order, making way for PJM to move ahead with its annual capacity auction after years of delay. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will soon take up a host of appeals of FERC’s decisions on the controversial MOPR. Continue Reading In PJM MOPR Proceeding, FERC Vacates Footnote Prompting Danly Dissent
On January 22, 2021, two Washington state irrigation districts, Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District and East Columbia Basin Irrigation District (the “Districts”), filed a Petition for Declaratory Order (“Petition”) requesting that FERC find that Federal Power Act (“FPA”) section 211A does not grant FERC jurisdiction over an unregulated transmitting utility solely as a result of the utility establishing different transmission rates by customer class or by contract. Continue Reading Two Northwest Irrigation Districts Request Declaratory Order on FERC’s Jurisdiction Under FPA Section 211A