On November 4, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (the “D.C. Circuit”) rejected Sierra Club’s arguments that FERC’s environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”) of Cheniere Energy Inc.’s (“Cheniere”) Corpus Christi, Texas liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) export project (the “Corpus Christi Project”) was inadequate. Notably, the D.C. Circuit held that FERC does not have to address the indirect environmental effects of anticipated exports of LNG in its NEPA review because the U.S. Department of Energy (the “DOE”) has sole authority to approve the export of natural gas.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Denies Review, Upholds FERC Approval of Corpus Christi LNG Facility

On November 4, 2016, FERC conditionally accepted revisions to the Southwest Power Pool, Inc.’s (“SPP”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”) designed to clarify and consolidate SPP’s processes regarding “out-of-merit” energy, which refers to energy that is specifically dispatched to address operational situations that cannot be resolved by market systems. The Tariff revisions are effective August 10, 2016.
Continue Reading FERC Accepts SPP Tariff Revisions for “Out-of-Merit” Energy Processes

On November 8, 2016, FERC approved the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) proposed tariff revisions intended to improve the effectiveness of its local market power mitigation procedures by reducing the frequency of instances where such procedures under-predict congestion. Going forward, CAISO will apply mitigation measures at real-time dispatch intervals.
Continue Reading FERC Approves CAISO’s Revisions to Local Market Power Mitigation Procedures

Donald J. Trump (R) was elected 45th President of the United States yesterday, a development that will likely change the way energy companies interact with regulators and the federal government. Without addressing the political issues associated with the race itself, we provide the following initial thoughts on practical issues regarding FERC associated with a shift in political party control of the Executive Branch, an event that has not affected Washington, D.C. since late 2008/early 2009.

Specifically, FERC currently has three sitting Commissioners, all Democrats. Mr. Trump’s election will permit his administration to dramatically change the make-up of the Commission. He may be able to appoint as many as four new Commissioners in 2017, and will almost certainly appoint a new Chair upon his inauguration. Notably, given the timing of the confirmation process for new FERC Commissioners, the current sitting Commissioners could be in control of FERC through at least April of 2017 assuming none of them resign in the interim. We explain below how these FERC changes will happen and provide a general sense of the timeline for new Commissioners and new leadership to be installed.
Continue Reading Special Update Regarding Presidential Election and Impact on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”)

On November 1, 2016, FERC dismissed a complaint filed by the Vote Solar Initiative and the Montana Environmental Information Center (collectively, “Vote Solar”) against the Montana Public Service Commission (“Montana Commission”) alleging that the Montana Commission violated section 210 of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) by suspending NorthWestern Energy’s (“NorthWestern”) obligation to adhere to a standard rate for solar qualifying facilities (“QFs”) with a nameplate capacity between 100 kW and 3 MW. FERC dismissed the complaint on the grounds that: (i) it does not have jurisdiction to order the Montana Commission to take or not take particular actions; and (ii) Vote Solar is neither a QF nor an electric utility, and therefore is not permitted to file a petition for enforcement pursuant to section 210 of PURPA.
Continue Reading FERC Dismisses Vote Solar PURPA Complaint Against Montana Commission, Citing Lack of Jurisdiction and Standing

On November 1, 2016, FERC rejected arguments raised by numerous intervenors (“Environmental Intervenors”) that FERC had too narrowly defined its jurisdiction over Trans-Pecos Pipeline, LLC’s (“Trans-Pecos”) Presidio Border Crossing Project (the “Project”) and interconnecting intrastate pipeline (the “Trans-Pecos Pipeline”), which resulted in an abbreviated environmental review that failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”). In doing so, FERC found that the Trans-Pecos Pipeline will be an intrastate pipeline receiving natural gas produced solely in Texas, and thus environmental review of the construction and operation of the pipeline is not subject to FERC’s Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) Section 7 jurisdiction.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects Arguments that Environmental Review of Presidio Border Crossing Project Failed to Consider Related Intrastate Pipeline

On October 31, 2016, FERC approved PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) proposed revisions to Schedule 1 of the PJM Amended and Restated Operating Agreement (“Operating Agreement”) and the parallel provisions of Attachment K-Appendix of the PJM Open Access Transmission Tariff (“Tariff”). The approved revisions modify PJM’s compensation procedures for load reductions during emergency conditions.

Continue Reading FERC Approves Revised Compensation Procedures for PJM Emergency Load Response Program

On October 28, 2016, FERC issued an order that both partially accepted compliance filings and also denied rehearing requests from PJM Interconnection, LLC (“PJM”), Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) and MISO Transmission Owners regarding Order No. 1000 interregional compliance filings. Of particular concern for the Commission was the parties’ MISO-PJM Joint Operating Agreement (“MISO-PJM JOA”), and whether it failed to satisfy certain required Interregional Cost Allocation Principles. This is the third such order to address the parties’ compliance with the interregional transmission coordination and cost allocation requirements of Order No. 1000.
Continue Reading FERC Denies Rehearing of PJM and MISO Order No. 1000 Interregional Compliance Filings

On October 25, 2016, FERC held that a pipeline providing interstate service pursuant to Natural Gas Policy Act (“NGPA”) Section 311 may not give preferential curtailment priority to preexisting, intrastate customers unless their intrastate transportation service agreements expressly provide for a higher curtailment priority above the pipeline’s other firm services. In doing so, FERC clarified that it is not enough that a preexisting intrastate service agreement has “different” curtailment provisions than the pipeline’s Statement of Operating Conditions (“SOC”) used to provide interstate service pursuant to NGPA Section 311.
Continue Reading FERC Clarifies Precedent on Curtailment Priority Between Firm Section 311 Service and Preexisting Intrastate Service

On October 25, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) ruled that two Notices issued by the FERC Secretary as the result of a deadlock between the then-four sitting FERC Commissioners over whether to approve or set for hearing the rates established by ISO-New England, Inc.’s (“ISO-NE”) eighth Forward-Capacity Auction (“FCA 8”) were unreviewable. Specifically, the court concluded that: (i) the Notices did not constitute reviewable “agency action” as contemplated by the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), because, according to the court, the FPA requires a “majority” vote of the Commissioners in order for FERC to act institutionally; and (ii) the Notices were not reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) by virtue of an unlawful “failure to act,” because the FPA does not mandatorily obligate FERC to either set disputed rates for hearing, or to affirmatively prevent any unjust and unreasonable rates from going into effect.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Holds That FERC Deadlock is Unreviewable Under FPA, APA