FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued orders on September 27, 2022, filing and settling charges against various affiliates of financial institutions for failing to maintain, preserve, or produce records that were required to be kept under the CFTC’s recordkeeping requirements and failing to diligently supervise matters related to their businesses. As FERC also has record retention requirements, we discuss key takeaways on compliance and communication methods in light of the CFTC’s orders.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued an order on September 22, 2022, informing sellers with market-based rate (MBR) authorization that have not complied with Order No. 860’s requirements to submit data describing their ownership and affiliates that their MBR authorizations will be revoked unless they come into compliance within 15 days.
Following weeks of anticipation, US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the text of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, his permitting reform legislation, on September 21, 2022. As part of an agreement to win Senator Manchin’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act, Democratic leadership committed to bringing energy infrastructure permitting reform to a vote this year, namely by including it in a continuing resolution (CR) to extend government funding before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
FERC recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) to expand the existing duty of candor rule by adding a requirement in 18 CFR Part 1 that any entity communicating with FERC or other specified organizations related to a matter that is subject to FERC’s jurisdiction must submit accurate and factual information and must not submit false or misleading information or omit material information. However, exercising due diligence to prevent the submission of false or inaccurate information would be an affirmative defense to violations of the requirement.
US Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced legislation on July 28, 2022, to provide FERC with the authority to temporarily or permanently ban any person from trading or transacting in certain energy markets if that person is found to have manipulated the natural gas or electricity market or willfully or knowingly provided false information regarding those markets. Known as the Energy Consumer Protection Act of 2022, the legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
FERC recently held a Staff-led technical conference to discuss whether, and if so, how, the Commission should require additional financial assurance mechanisms in the licenses and other authorizations it issues for hydroelectric projects, to ensure that licensees have the capability to carry out license requirements and, particularly, to maintain their projects in safe condition. The feedback received during the conference, as well as the comments to be filed, will likely shape the ultimate FERC rule on financial assurance requirements currently under consideration.

Cost allocation for regional transmission projects has long been one of the more challenging aspects of regional transmission development because it determines who should ultimately bear the costs of the regional transmission projects and in what proportion. Litigation over these issues is not uncommon.

FERC believes that barriers to transmission investment pose significant risks to the energy economy. Inadequate transmission can lead to transmission congestion, which in turn impedes capital investment in energy infrastructure and the facilities necessary to ensure reliable and efficient service. That problem is compounded by changing supply and demand conditions and an increasingly diverse generation mix, which can create ripple effects on competitive wholesale markets.
As an example of its renewed focus on dam safety, FERC recently issued an order assessing a $600,000 civil penalty to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro LLC for a violation of Ampersand’s hydro license for the 500 kW Cranberry Lake Project No. 9658. The violation is related to Ampersand’s failure to complete known dam safety repairs over multiple years and its loss of property rights needed for the Cranberry Lake Project, located on the Oswegatchie River in St. Lawrence County, New York.
According to FERC, one of the biggest shortcomings of existing regional transmission planning is its focus on short-term needs. Long-term planning, while part of planning processes today, is not sufficient in FERC’s view and has led to “piecemeal” transmission development and an overreliance on meeting transmission needs through generator interconnection processes, which are not designed with larger regional facilities in mind.