Driven by the entry of renewable generation resources locating far from load centers and the new demands placed on the grid by their differing characteristics, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) launched a comprehensive review of its policies regarding regional transmission planning, interconnection and cost-allocation.  In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR), the agency requested public comments on its current policies and offered potential areas for reform with a view toward anticipated future generation.  According to FERC Chairman Richard Glick, “(a) piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”
Continue Reading FERC Reviewing Rules for Grid of the Future

On June 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in Environmental Defense Fund v. FERC vacating and remanding FERC’s order issuing a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Spire STL Pipeline LLC (“Spire STL”) under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.  The decision is a rare instance of the D.C. Circuit vacating a FERC certificate order upon finding that FERC’s determination regarding the market need for the proposed pipeline was arbitrary and capricious, and was not supported by the Commission’s Certificate Policy Statement. Thus, there is no clear precedent for how FERC may approach Spire STL’s application moving forward.  The D.C. Circuit’s decision also comes as FERC considers revising its Certificate Policy Statement, including the framework for determining need for a proposed project, after receiving over 100 comment filings from interested stakeholders in response to FERC’s February 18 Notice of Inquiry on certificate policy.
Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Vacates FERC’s Spire STL Pipeline Certificate Order

On June 17, FERC took two actions intended to facilitate greater coordination with and between state regulators on electric transmission policy and development.  First, FERC issued an order establishing a Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission (Task Force), and soliciting nominations for state commission representation on the Task Force from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). According to FERC’s order, the Task Force will focus on topics related to efficiently and fairly planning and paying for transmission, including generator interconnection, that provide benefits from a federal and state perspective. If successful, the Task Force could play a critical role in re-designing FERC’s interstate transmission policy to better accommodate the state-policy-driven development of renewable energy generation facilities across the country.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes Unprecedented Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission, Issues Policy Statement on State Voluntary Agreements

In a recent order, FERC pulled back, for now, its decision to sharply limit the ability of retail regulators to prohibit distributed energy resource (DER) aggregators from bidding retail customer demand response (DR) into wholesale markets.  Instead, the issue will be considered in  an ongoing inquiry that is addressing whether to totally eliminate the ability of retail regulators to keep retail DR resource offers out of FERC-jurisdictional wholesale markets.
Continue Reading FERC Reconsidering Limits On Retail Regulator Control Over Aggregating Demand Response

In two recent certificate orders issued on May 20, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) did not assess the significance of the greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions of natural gas pipeline projects in terms of their contribution to climate change. This seems to be a step back from a March, 2021 order, which indicated that FERC would consider the significance of natural gas emissions in the context of a certificate involving pipeline replacement facilities, but reflects an unusual last-minute compromise reached during an open meeting in order to gain sufficient votes to approve the certificates.
Continue Reading FERC Policy on GHG Impact of Gas Pipelines on Climate Still in Flux

This blog is the twelfth in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

Power lines, strung between high-voltage transmission towers, are etched across the American landscape. Yet the United States’ current transmission infrastructure is outdated and inefficient, plagued by bottlenecks and weak interconnections across regions, which limit the grid’s ability to integrate renewable generation and its overall resilience. Improving and expanding the Nation’s transmission infrastructure is therefore central to the American Jobs Plan’s (AJP) grid modernization, decarbonization and job-creation goals.
Continue Reading Lines, Labor and Leveraging Capital: How the AJP Would Upgrade Transmission Infrastructure

FERC recently took two actions regarding its transmission rate incentives policies.  FERC proposed to scale back an earlier proposed increase in the return on equity (ROE) premium allowed in the rates of transmission owners that join Transmission Organizations such as RTOs/ISOs and proposed to clamp limits on its term.  The Commission also scheduled a workshop to address performance-based incentives for transmission technology deployment.  Both actions were taken in the context of a March 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) aimed at, in part, awarding rate incentives for certain beneficial transmission investments.
Continue Reading FERC Focusing On Electric Transmission Incentives

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has for the first time ruled on whether the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted during the construction and operation of a proposed natural gas pipeline has a significant impact on climate change in determining whether to authorize a project as consistent with public convenience and necessity under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.  In earlier orders, FERC concluded that it was unable to assess the significance of a project’s GHG emissions or those emissions’ contribution to climate change.  In a recent order approving Northern Natural Gas Company’s proposal to replace a pipeline segment, FERC stated that is no longer the case and then assesses the significance of the project’s GHG emissions and their contribution to climate change.
Continue Reading FERC Assesses Impact of Pipeline Project’s GHG Emissions On Climate Change

In  two recent orders, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) continued its push to enable distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregators to compete in organized wholesale electricity markets.  DERs are located on the distribution system or behind the customer meter, and include electric storage resources, intermittent generation, distributed generation, demand response, energy efficiency, thermal storage, and electric vehicles and their charging equipment.  Aggregators may aggregate multiple small DERs as a single resource to compete in the market.
Continue Reading FERC Upholds Rule Opening Electricity Markets to Distributed Resource Aggregators and Acts to Restrict State Regulator Interference

FERC has opened a proceeding regarding the shift from non-electric to electric sources of energy at the point of final consumption, such as to fuel vehicles and to provide heating and cooling, including process heat at industrial facilities. To that end, FERC announced an April 29, 2021 conference “to initiate a dialog between Commissioners and stakeholders on how to prepare for an increasingly electrified future.”
Continue Reading FERC to Address Electrification and the Grid of the Future