The D.C. Circuit issued a decision in Vecinos para el Bienestar de la Comunidad Costera v. FERC, which faulted FERC for failing to consider whether the social cost of carbon (SCC) is a “generally accepted” analytical tool for assessing the significance of greenhouse gas impacts under NEPA.  The decision is likely to result in

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

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

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

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened the door for fuel cell systems with integrated hydrocarbon reformation equipment to be certified as Qualifying Facility cogenerators under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA).  The agency adopted a final rule that amends the definition of the useful thermal output of a QF cogenerator so that such fuel cell systems may qualify.
Continue Reading FERC Rule: Some Fuel Cell Facilities May Qualify as QFs

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would allow certain Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) systems to be certified as Qualifying Facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and thus receive regulatory benefits meant, in part, to encourage the innovation and development of cogeneration facilities.  The proposal applies to SOFC systems that use heat and steam to convert natural gas to hydrogen, which then reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell to produce electricity, and then uses some of the heat and steam produced to continue converting methane into hydrogen to produce additional electricity.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes QF Status for Some Fuel Cell Facilities