In 2022, FERC began issuing directives aimed at ensuring that the reliability of the bulk-power system is protected from potential risks posed by the growing number of inverter-based resources (IBRs) connected to the electric grid. As we previously reported, FERC issued three orders in December 2022 focused on increasing regulations for IBRs through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), an independent electric reliability organization that develops and enforces mandatory reliability standards. In continuance of this goal, this fall, FERC took the step of directing NERC to develop or modify reliability standards specifically to address reliability concerns attributable to IBRs (Order No. 901).
FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments
On January 1, 2023, newly constructed standalone energy storage facilities became eligible for an investment tax credit (ITC) under Section 48 of the Internal Code of 1986, as amended (Code), pursuant to provisions of the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Storage facilities placed in service before 2023 generally were only eligible for an ITC when constructed as part of a combined renewable generation (typically solar) plus storage facility and the storage system was charged by the paired renewable generation system at least for the 5-year initial operating period. Storage developers and owners will now be able to take advantage of new and significant tax credit opportunities, whether or not the storage system is paired with a renewable generation energy facility.
FERC issued three orders focused on increasing regulations for inverter-based resources (IBRs) in fulfillment of one of its primary goals to protect the reliability of the bulk-power system. FERC ensures this reliability through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), an independent Electric Reliability Organization that develops and enforces mandatory reliability standards. The reliability standards are only mandatory for certain entities registered with NERC, but most IBRs are not required to register and therefore are not obligated to follow the reliability standards.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) announced during its March 18 open meeting two recent actions to promote greater use of distributed energy resources and demand response. First, FERC has amended regulations on distributed energy resource aggregation in the capacity, energy, and ancillary markets operated by a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) or an Independent System Operator (ISO). Second, and related to its distributed energy resource amendments, FERC is seeking public comment on whether to revise regulations barring RTOs and ISOs from accepting bids of certain demand response aggregations.
During its January open meeting, FERC issued an order directing independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) to submit informational reports regarding co-located generation resources. The order focuses on so-called “hybrid resources,” which is a term that refers generally to sets of co-located resources sharing a single point of interconnection that can be separately dispatchable or modeled and dispatched as a single integrated resource. The forthcoming reports could shed light on the manner in which hybrid resources are, or could be, participating in wholesale markets as well as the hurdles to such participation.
Read our recent LawFlash analyzing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Order No. 2222, which directs wholesale electric market operators to facilitate the participation of distributed energy resource (DER) aggregators under one or more participation models.
FERC recently dismissed the New England Ratepayers Association’s petition for declaratory order requesting FERC to exert jurisdiction over certain net-metering transactions.
On July 10, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was well within its rights to prevent states from prohibiting energy storage resources from participating in wholesale (i.e., sales for resale) energy markets. The court’s order is the latest judicial affirmation of FERC’s authority to regulate activities on wide portions of the electric grid, including facilities reserved to state regulators, if those activities affect wholesale rates.
The US Department of the Treasury issued a letter on May 7 stating that it plans to modify the continuity safe harbor for both the production tax credit (PTC) and the energy investment tax credit (ITC). Under the current law, taxpayers seeking to claim a PTC for electricity produced from qualifying facilities or an ITC for qualifying energy property must generally begin construction on the qualifying facility or property by specified dates.
Interest in microgrids is on the rise in the United States as over half of states explore ways to modernize the grid and promote distributed energy resources (DER), including innovative renewable energy, storage, and demand response technologies. However, microgrids are not defined by law or regulation in most states and are more complex than other types of DER because they involve both the generation and distribution of energy.