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FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

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.

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.
On June 11, 2021, the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a proposed sale notice to sell commercial wind energy leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the New York Bight. The New York Bight is an area of shallow waters located between Long Island and the New Jersey coast that is adjacent to the greater metropolitan tristate area, which is home to more than 20 million people. BOEM proposes to offer for sale eight lease areas and to complete the lease sale by holding a public auction.

Bill Kissinger, Ella Foley Gannon, and Rick Rothman discuss recent US regulatory and legislative developments addressing climate change and renewable energy. They discuss the Biden-Harris administration's focus on setting goals to address climate change and highlight the success in California as a possible model for the United States. Read the Law360 article.

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.
A very significant step in the development of offshore wind in the United States was reached on May 11, 2021, when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved Vineyard Wind’s 62-turbine offshore wind farm located about 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. This is the first major offshore wind project approved by BOEM, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service: at 800 megawatts of capacity, the project is an order of magnitude larger than previously-installed test turbines and projects like the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm.
Mexico’s Senate approved a set of amendments—sponsored by President Lopez Obrador—to Mexico’s Power Industry Law on March 2, 2021. The amendments aim to improve the market position and profitability of the state-owned utility company, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), to the detriment of private energy producers, including foreign investors in renewable energy.
FERC issued an original license for a period of 25 years, pursuant to Part I of the Federal Power Act, to Oregon State University (OSU) to construct, operate, and maintain the proposed PacWave South Hydrokinetic Project No. 14616 (PacWave Project). The PacWave Project is a first-of-its-kind wave energy testing facility that will be sited approximately seven miles off the coast of the state of Oregon and consists of both offshore and onshore components.
FERC announced on February 22 that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threats of climate change and extreme weather to electric reliability. The investigation will assess how grid operators prepare for and respond to extreme weather events, including, droughts, extreme cold, wildfires, hurricanes, and prolonged heat waves. The proceeding will include a technical conference with an opportunity for parties to submit comments in advance of that conference.
A LawFlash prepared by our energy team discusses likely results of the Texas power outages and blackouts during the recent winter storm, which include federal and state investigations into the outages, federal investigations into commodity and futures price spikes during the storm, force majeure inquiries, and demands for corrective actions to ensure future reliability of the grid system.