Articles Posted in Utilities Law

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NorthWestern challenged FERC's determination that its proposed rate was not just and reasonable. The DC Circuit held that FERC's decision in this case was reasonable and reasonably explained where FERC reasonably modified NorthWestern's proposed cost-calculation ratio by excluding the megawatts associated with "regulation down" from the numerator; FERC did not arbitrarily increase the denominator of NorthWestern's proposed cost-calculation ratio; FERC's decision on fuel costs was reasonable and reasonably explained; and FERC acted reasonably by requiring NorthWestern to make separate Section 205 filings. The court also held that FERC properly decided to treat this case like an ordinary over-collection case and ordered a refund. Therefore, the court denied the petition for review. View "NorthWestern Corp. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit dismissed KCC's petition for review, holding that KCC has not suffered an injury in fact sufficient to establish standing. KCC asserted that the Commission acted unlawfully by approving formula rates—which help determine the electric rates charged by public utilities to consumers in FERC jurisdictions—for future public utilities to use in operating electric transmission facilities. The court held that KCC failed to affirmatively demonstrate how it was adversely affected by the FERC's order and there was no substantial probability that the harms KCC identified would occur. View "Kansas Corporation Commission v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged four FERC orders that uphold the current iteration of the Tariff that governs electricity rates in New England. The Tariff, a patchwork of rules and orders adopted by the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE) and approved by FERC, governs how Forward Capacity Market participants buy and sell future capacity. The DC Circuit granted the petitions for review, holding that FERC failed to offer adequate rationale and explanation in the challenged orders. In this case, FERC failed to respond to the substantial arguments put forward by petitioners and failed to square its decision with its past precedent. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "New England Power Generators Association, Inc. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied petitions for review challenging FERC's orders approving PJM's tariff that determined the rates paid to energy providers for providing electric capacity in the broad mid-Atlantic region. Petitioners argued that FERC lacked substantial evidence to approve the estimates of labor costs that formed part of the calculation of the cost of new entry; FERC should have accepted the labor-cost calculations of petitioners' expert; and FERC erred in approving another input to the estimated cost of new entry. The court held that petitioners' objections failed to undermine the substantial evidence supporting FERC's figure for the cost of new entry and failed to overcome the court's deferential standard of review. View "PJM Power Providers Group v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit denied petitions for review challenging FERC's orders approving PJM's tariff that determined the rates paid to energy providers for providing electric capacity in the broad mid-Atlantic region. Petitioners argued that FERC lacked substantial evidence to approve the estimates of labor costs that formed part of the calculation of the cost of new entry; FERC should have accepted the labor-cost calculations of petitioners' expert; and FERC erred in approving another input to the estimated cost of new entry. The court held that petitioners' objections failed to undermine the substantial evidence supporting FERC's figure for the cost of new entry and failed to overcome the court's deferential standard of review. View "PJM Power Providers Group v. FERC" on Justia Law

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FERC issued a series of orders empowering incoming generators within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region to elect to self-fund this new construction, or to seek financing from third parties, regardless of whether the current grid owners wish to fund the construction themselves. The DC Circuit vacated the orders, holding that there was neither evidence nor economic logic supporting FERC's discriminatory theory as applied to transmission owners without affiliated generation assets. The court also held that FERC did not adequately respond to petitioners' argument that involuntary generator funding compelled them to construct, own, and operate facilities without compensatory network upgrade charges – thus forcing them to accept additional risk without corresponding return as essentially non-profit managers of these upgrade facilities. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Ameren Services Co. v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged two sets of orders issued by the Commission regarding a scarcity pricing mechanism in the New England power market. The DC Circuit held that the exhaustion requirements of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 824d, deprived it of jurisdiction over the petition to review the Tariff Order. Therefore, the court dismissed the petition in Case No. 16-1023. The court held, on the merits, that the Commission was not arbitrary or capricious in denying petitioners' complaint and thus denied the petition in Case No. 16-1024 seeking review of the Complaint Order. View "New England Power Generators Association v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Before the DC Circuit's decision in Albany Engineering Corp. v. FERC, 548 F.3d 1071 (D.C. Cir. 2008), parallel federal and New York state regulatory regimes required downstream hydroelectric facilities to reimburse their headwater counterparts for certain costs. Albany changed that dual-track regulatory scheme by holding that the New York State assessment regime was preempted by section 10(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), which entitled the District to recover only "interest, maintenance, and depreciation" costs. In the wake of Albany, Erie petitioned FERC to credit it for costs the District had assessed it in excess of the federally mandated costs. The Commission denied Erie's request and denied a rehearing, based on its determining that Erie and the District had formally settled their state law dispute over headwater charges in 2006. The DC Circuit denied Erie's petition to vacate the Commission's orders, rejecting Erie's contention that the Commission's two 2015 orders ran contrary to section 10(f) of the FPA; the 2006 Settlement; the Commission's regulations; and a "legion of prior, unchallenged Commission orders." View "Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP v. FERC" on Justia Law

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AOPL petitioned for review of FERC's issuance of an order adopting the index formula to govern oil pipeline rates for the 2016 to 2021 period. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that there was no merit to AOPL's claim that FERC impermissibly relied solely on the middle 50 percent of pipeline cost-change data and failed to incorporate the middle 80 percent of cost-change data, and that FERC impermissibly used "Page 700" cost-of-service data to calculate the index level. The court held that the record makes it plain that the Commission adequately and reasonably explained its decision not to consider the middle 80 percent of pipelines' cost-change data; nothing in any of FERC's past index review orders bound the agency to use the middle 80 percent of pipelines' cost-change data; the Commission's rationale for utilizing the cost-of-service data from Page 700 was clear and reasonable; and there was nothing in the record to support AOPL's claim that FERC's decision to use Page 700 data indicates an unexplained shift in its measurement objective. View "Association of Oil Pipe Lines v. FERC" on Justia Law

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SPP, a regional transmission organization (RTO), filed with FERC revisions to its tariff that reflected an agreement with Integrated System entities to integrate their facilities. Pursuant to the requirements of section 205 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824d, SPP filed with FERC revisions to its tariff that reflected the parties' agreement. FERC approved the revisions over the objections of Kansas. The DC Circuit denied Kansas' petition for review, holding that FERC accurately described the agreement as reciprocal; Kansas misread various precedents and the court rejected its contention that the arrangement violated critical norms of ratemaking; the court saw no basis for a claim of undue discrimination; and the court rejected Kansas' arguments regarding SPP's reliance on a study commissioned by the IS Parties. Finally, FERC did not abuse its discretion by deciding not to hold an evidentiary hearing on the disputed features of the record underlying its approval of the merger. View "State Corp. Commission of KS v. FERC" on Justia Law