FERC

FERC Proposes Policy Statement on Oil Pipeline Affiliate Contracts

On October 15, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a proposed policy statement containing guidance for oil (and petroleum products) pipeline common carriers proposing rates and terms pursuant to affiliate contracts.  The proposed guidance likely stems from a 2017 order in Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P., wherein FERC denied a petition for declaratory order requesting that a proposal to establish a marketing affiliate to buy, sell, and ship crude oil be found compliant with the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA).  FERC’s guidance seeks to address the key issue identified in the Magellan order—using affiliates to provide a discount or rebate to producers that are not shippers.  The policy statement addresses this concern by requesting additional disclosures in an effort to foster greater transparency.

The policy statement provides oil pipelines with clear guidelines when seeking approval in a petition for declaratory order or tariff filing for contract rates or terms pursuant to an affiliate contract.  The policy statement outlines information carriers

Update: FERC Revises “Tolling” Order Language to Address Recent Court of Appeals Decision; Seeks Legislative Fix

As discussed previously in Pierce Atwood’s Energy Infrastructure Blog, on June 30, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that FERC lacks authority to issue tolling orders that postpone rehearing decisions on natural gas project orders solely to give the agency more time to consider rehearing requests and which delay opposing parties’ efforts to file appeals court challenges.  Allegheny Defense Project v. FERC, No. 17-1098 (D.C. Cir. June 30, 2020).  On July 1, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued its first order since the Allegheny Defense decision addressing a rehearing request that it did not act on within the 30-day statutory time period under the Natural Gas Act.

Incorporating suggestions from the court’s opinion, in Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., 172 FERC ¶ 61,009 (2020), FERC issued a Notice of Denial of Rehearing by Operation of Law and Providing for Further Consideration.  That notice debuted

DC Circuit Rejects FERC’s Tolling Authority in Pipeline Certificate Proceedings

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) can no longer delay judicial review of its orders under the Natural Gas Act by issuing a tolling order that takes no action on a rehearing request other than granting itself more time to address the merits.  On June 30, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an en banc opinion on rehearing denying motions to dismiss petitions for review filed with the court after FERC issued a “tolling” order extending the statutory 30-day time period for FERC to act on rehearing, but before FERC issued a rehearing order on the merits.  Allegheny Defense Project, et al. v. FERC, No. 17-1098 (D.C. Cir. Jun. 30, 2020).

Such tolling orders in pipeline certificate proceedings under Section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act enable FERC to authorize pipeline developers to begin construction and seek to condemn construction rights-of-way by eminent domain if necessary before FERC issues a merits

FERC Declares Concurrent Jurisdiction with Bankruptcy Courts Over Rejections of Natural Gas Transportation Agreements

On June 22, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order in response to a Petition for Declaratory Order (“Petition”) filed by ETC Tiger Pipeline, LLC (“ETC Tiger”), finding that FERC has concurrent jurisdiction with United States Bankruptcy Courts to review and dispose of natural gas transportation agreements sought to be rejected through bankruptcy.[1]

The Petition, filed on May 19, 2020, requested that FERC find that it has concurrent jurisdiction with Bankruptcy Courts under sections 4 and 5 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) with respect to natural gas transportation agreements between ETC Tiger and Chesapeake Energy Marketing, L.L.C. (“Chesapeake”) and that FERC approval of any abrogation or modification of the agreements is statutorily required.  Specifically, ETC Tiger requested three Commission declarations:

  1. The natural gas transportation agreements between ETC Tiger and Chesapeake are FERC-jurisdictional agreements reflecting filed rates approved by FERC pursuant to its exclusive jurisdiction under the NGA;
  2. If Chesapeake seeks rejection of the agreements

Changes to Horizontal Market Power Analysis in FERC Market-Based Rate Applications

Refinements to Horizontal Market Power Analysis for Sellers in Certain Regional Transmission Organization and Independent System Operator Markets,
Order No. 861, 168 FERC ¶ 61,040 (2019).

Effective date: September 24, 2019.

On July 18, 2019, FERC issued an order modifying the requirements for entities which hold market-based rate authority, as well as new applicants. This order will reduce the filing burden on entities seeking market-based rates in the Eastern ISOs, PJM, NYISO, ISO New England and MISO. It leaves filing requirements unchanged for entities in bilateral markets, CAISO and SPP.

Order No. 861 finds that sellers transacting in markets operated by regional transmission organization (“RTO”) and independent system operators (“ISO”) do not need to submit indicative screens regarding their horizontal market power to obtain or maintain market-based rates to sell energy, ancillary services and capacity. The Commission found that the ISO/RTOs’ market monitoring regimes are sufficiently mature to allow for appropriate monitoring and mitigation. Further,

New FERC Data Collection Requirements for Market-Based Rate Sellers

Data Collection for Analytics and Surveillance and Market-Based Rate Purposes,
Order No. 860, 168 FERC ¶ 61,039 (2019).

On July 18, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) issued a final rule which will have impacts on new market-based rate applications, as well as companies which currently have such authorization.  Under this rule, companies which currently hold market-based rates, as well as new applicants, will need to submit data into a relational database regarding their affiliates, and will need to keep such data updated.  This will add a new compliance obligation to companies, and will require closer monitoring of active and passive investors in a project.

Following up on the 2016 series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking,[1] the Commission issued a final rule, adopting its proposal to collect market-based rate information in a relational database, but declining to require entities, including those holding market-based rates (“Sellers”) and those who transact in virtual energy and

Generator Interconnection Final Rule

FERC Substantively Revises Generator Interconnection Rules, Eases Rules For New Developers of Generation and Storage Facilities

On Thursday, April 19, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or “Commission”) issued a Final Rule revising its Large Generator Interconnection Procedures (LGIP) and Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (LGIA), which apply to generators over 20 MW.[1] The order, labeled Order No. 845, is the first comprehensive review of FERC’s generator interconnection policy in about 15 years, since Order No. 2003 and its progeny in 2003.

Order No. 845 is prospective only, applying to generators which are not yet in a queue.  Transmission providers, including independent system operators and regional transmission organizations (ISO/RT) must file changes to their tariffs by August 7, 2018. Note that on May 17, 2018, the ISO/RTO Council filed a motion for extension, asking that the compliance date be extended by 70 days to October 16, 2018.

The changes that FERC proposes will be beneficial

FERC Commissioners Testify on Energy Infrastructure, Resiliency, State-Federal Tensions

On April 17, 2018, the five Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) testified before the House Energy Subcommittee in a hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and FY2019 Budget.”  Chairman Kevin McIntyre, along with Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur, Neil Chatterjee, Robert Powelson and Richard Glick discussed a number of topics ranging from cyber security and grid resiliency to baseload resources, removing barriers to entry for energy storage, review of the pipeline approval process, as well as potential modifications to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”) and the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).

Key topics and takeaways included:

  • Tension between state energy policies and wholesale electricity markets.  Chairman McIntyre commented that finding a balance between state energy policies and FERC’s jurisdiction over the wholesale markets is one of the trickiest areas the Commission faces.  He explained that states have the authority to prefer certain energy resources, and FERC has the obligation to ensure that electricity generated by these resources is

FERC Approves CASPR, ISO-NE’s New Forward Capacity Auction

On March 9, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in a split decision, approved ISO-New England Inc.’s (ISO-NE) proposed tariff revisions to accommodate entry of additional clean energy resources into the Forward Capacity Market (FCM).[1]  ISO-NE’s Competitive Auctions with Sponsored Policy Resources (CASPR) revises the Forward Capacity Auction (FCA) rules to include a secondary auction to “facilitate the transfer of capacity supply obligations (CSOs) from existing capacity resources, which commit to permanently exit ISO-NE’s wholesale markets” to new, state-incentivized clean energy resources known as “Sponsored Policy Resources.”

Existing resources that shed their CSO in the substitution auction will retain a one-time “severance payment” for the difference between the clearing prices in the primary and substitution auctions.  With the exception of approved tariff changes regarding FCM settlements, CASPR takes effect immediately, to coincide with the start of the year-long auction administration cycle for FCA 13.

FERC’s order is an important one, as it approves tariff revisions that reconcile

FERC has Options if Court of Appeals Seeks to Shut Down an Operating Interstate Pipeline

Can an interstate natural gas pipeline continue to operate if a court vacates its certificate authorizations?

On January 31, 2018, in Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 16-1329 (D.C. Cir.), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied rehearing  and rehearing  en banc (before the full court) of petitions for rehearing filed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and jointly by Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light, Florida Southeast Connection, Sabal Trail Transmission, and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (the “Supporting Intervenors”).  The court’s orders raise the possibility that the court will issue its mandate and vacate FERC’s orders granting certificates of public convenience and necessity authorizing the construction and operation of the Florida Southeast Connection pipelines, which are currently transporting natural gas to power plants in Florida. If the court issues the mandate, FERC and the pipeline operators will be faced with whether, and if so how, the pipelines can continue