FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
In an article featured in our global energy industry newsletter, Empowered, lawyers Carl Valenstein and Jonathan Wilcon analyze the implications of the Jones Act on offshore wind development. While the authors acknowledge that many see Jones Act compliance as a “potential bottleneck” for the offshore wind industry’s progress, they discuss strategies that will permit Jones Act compliance and offshore wind development in the United States.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently issued a final rule, Order No. 880, revising its hydropower project inspection and safety regulations. The updates revise part 12 of FERC’s regulations and conclude an approximately year and a half of rulemaking in Docket No. RM20-9.

The Federal Register recently published the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) notice of Request for Information (RFI) seeking public input on energy sector supply chains. The RFI requests that stakeholders provide comment on a wide variety of issues concerning supply chains of energy and related technologies.

FERC recently issued a notice of extension of time further extending, by three months, the compliance dates for FERC’s new market-based rate (MBR) relationship database filing requirements under Order No. 860. This extension follows multiple prior extensions. Meeting these new deadlines is required of all public utilities who either currently hold MBR authority or will request MBR authorization to engage in sales for resale of electric energy, capacity, or ancillary services at marked-based or negotiated rates. Given the complexity of the new reporting requirements, the deadlines extension will provide valuable additional time to entities to prepare their baseline submission.

FERC recently issued an order to show cause and notice of proposed penalty to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro LLC for a violation of Ampersand’s hydro license for the Cranberry Lake Project No. 9658 (Cranberry Lake Project). FERC ordered Ampersand to show cause as to why it should not be found to have violated Article 5 of the project license by failing to retain possession of all project property covered by the license, and to show cause as to why it should not be assessed a civil penalty of $600,000 for that violation.

In a notice issued on September 29, 2021, FERC stated that it did not act on PJM Interconnection LLC’s (PJM’s) proposed reforms to the application of the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) because the Commissioners are divided two against two as to the lawfulness of the change (Notice). Because FERC did not act within 60 days of PJM’s filing under Section 205 of the Federal Power Act, PJM’s proposal became effective by operation of law. PJM’s revisions “focus” the applicability of the MOPR and will allow certain resources that receive state support to participate in PJM’s capacity auction without being subject to the MOPR, significantly narrowing the scope of the prior rule.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) jointly authored a report regarding the February 2021 power outages in Texas and the US Midwest caused by extreme cold weather. The report identifies the causes of the outages and outlines a series of recommendations focusing on enhanced protection against cold weather for critical generation as well as the natural gas assets supplying gas-fired generation so that this infrastructure remains operational even in extreme cold weather.

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The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has submitted 10 nominees to FERC to serve on the newly formed Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission. Last month in Docket No. AD21-15, FERC issued an order establishing a joint federal-state task force with NARUC to evaluate barriers and solutions to transmission development. The task force will conduct joint hearings on transmission-related issues with a focus on developing ways to plan and pay for new transmission facilities that are best for the public interest.

FERC issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANOPR) in Docket No. RM21-17, seeking comment on the potential need for reform of Commission regulations necessary to improve regional transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes. Comments and reply comments are due 75 days and 105 days, respectively, after publication in the Federal Register.
Three Massachusetts utilities, in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), issued a request for proposals on May 7, 2021 seeking bids for offshore wind projects. The utilities are seeking to procure between 400 megawatts (MW) and 1.6 gigawatts (GW), and developers are permitted to submit applications for projects between 200 MW and 1.6 GW.