FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

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.
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.
To address changing system needs, FERC ordered each Regional Transmission Organization and Independent System Operator (collectively, RTO/ISO) to submit information to the Commission regarding changes to wholesale markets within 180 days.
FERC initiated show-cause proceedings on April 21, 2022, to investigate the justness and reasonableness of the formula rate protocols of five public utility transmission providers in the West.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) filed its 2022 NERC Standards Report, Status and Timetable for Addressing Regulatory Directives summarizing the progress made and plans for addressing the reliability standard-related directives issued by applicable governmental authorities. NERC reported that since March 29, 2021, the date of NERC’s last annual report, it filed petitions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) addressing four reliability standards-related directives.
At its December 2021 open meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) approved new rules to improve utilization of the transmission system by redefining “transmission line rating” to account for ambient weather conditions. The Commission expects that the change will permit greater transmission line utilization while also fostering reliability and safety. Transmission providers have 120 days to submit a compliance filing to account for the redefinition and must implement all requirements within three years of the compliance filing due date.
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.
US congressional Democrats released the latest version of H.R. 5376—better known as the Build Back Better Act—late last week, hoping to advance a $1.85 trillion spending package after months of deadlock.

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.