Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report 

On April 2, 2018, FERC denied a complaint alleging that the interconnection process under Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.’s (“MISO”) tariff was unjust and unreasonable because certain wind generators were experiencing delays in the process, such that those customers would not receive a Generator Interconnection Agreement (“GIA”) in time to receive Federal Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) benefits.  In doing so, FERC found that there was no evidence that MISO was not making reasonable efforts to meet interconnection deadlines, as required by its tariff.  FERC added that prior precedent does not require MISO to ensure wind generators receive their GIA in time to receive full PTC benefits. Continue Reading FERC Holds that MISO Interconnection Process Need Not Ensure that Interconnection Customers Receive PTC Benefits

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On March 9, 2018, a divided FERC approved the Competitive Auctions with Sponsored Policy Resources (“CASPR”) proposal submitted by the ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”). Developed through an extensive stakeholder process that began in 2016, CASPR was promoted by ISO-NE as a mechanism to integrate out-of-market state resource policies that might otherwise suppress capacity market prices in ISO-NE’s capacity market. A divided FERC approved the proposal as a just and reasonable accommodation of state policies, with Commissioner Powelson dissenting, arguing that the proposal dilutes market signals and “threatens the viability” of ISO-NE’s capacity market. Commissioners LaFleur and Glick concurred with the outcome, but criticized the order’s guidance on adapting markets to state energy policies, and reliance on minimum offer pricing rules (“MOPRs”) as the “standard solution” to achieve that end. Continue Reading A Divided FERC Approves ISO-NE’s Capacity Market Changes to Accommodate State Subsidized Resources

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On March 13 and March 15, 2018, FERC took actions to address tax law changes resulting from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for electricity, natural gas, and oil companies.  In addition, on March 15, 2018, in response to a federal court remand, FERC stated that master limited partnership (“MLP”) interstate natural gas and oil pipelines will no longer be allowed to receive an income tax allowance in cost of service rates.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, among other things, lowered the federal corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, effective January 1, 2018.  FERC addressed this tax rate change by issuing separate orders for electricity, natural gas, and oil companies.  First, the Commission issued two show-cause orders, pursuant to section 206 of the Federal Power Act, for 48 electricity companies whose current transmission tariffs include fixed rates that may have been based on the outdated tax rate.  Both orders direct the electric companies to propose tariff revisions to adjust their transmission rates in accordance with the new tax rate or otherwise, show why they should not be required to do so. Continue Reading FERC Addresses Impact of Tax Cuts on Rates for Energy Companies and Eliminates Income Tax Allowance for Master Limited Partnerships

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On March 8, 2018, President Donald Trump signed an order that enacts tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from all overseas countries, while exempting Canada and Mexico from such tariffs for now.  The proclamations signed by the President will institute a tariff of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports.  The tariffs are expected to become effective March 23, 2018.

The Trump administration’s efforts to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports came after a nine month investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, led by the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (see March 5, 2018 edition of the WER).  The investigations were initiated in April 2017 and designed to determine whether such imports “threaten or impair the national security.”  When the Section 232 reports were finalized on March 1, 2018, the Commerce Department determined that import competition harms the domestic production of aluminum and steel, and tariffs would strengthen the economic footing of steel and aluminum corporations. Continue Reading Trump Orders Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

An ambitious bill introduced in the Massachusetts’ Senate proposes to accelerate expansion to the state’s renewable energy sector. Along with implementing a market-based system to reduce emissions, the bill also aims to increase the required growth rate of the state’s renewable portfolio from 1% to 3% per year. Specific goals and proposals for solar, wind and energy storage are included in the bill. Continue Reading Massachusetts Bill Aims to Accelerate Renewable Energy Transition

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On February 15, 2018, FERC issued a notice that staff will hold a technical conference on April 10-11, 2018 to discuss the participation of distributed energy resources (“DER”) in markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators.  As FERC stated in the notice, the two-day conference will host several panels on two broad DER-related agendas: first, to continue considering the DER-related reforms initially proposed in the rulemaking culminating in the concurrently-issued Order No. 841 on electric storage participation in organized markets; and second, to broadly explore issues related to the potential effects of DERs on the bulk power system. Continue Reading FERC Establishes Technical Conference on Participation of Distributed Energy Resources in Organized Markets

In response to concerns regarding the changing nature of the nation’s energy supply portfolio and the emergence of promising energy storage technologies, the Commission in recent years issued several notices of inquiry, notice of proposed rulemaking, and policy statements regarding various energy storage and ancillary service supply issues. Additionally, the Commission considered but ultimately declined to pursue the Department of Energy-initiated rulemaking on grid resiliency and reliability. On February 15, 2018, however, the Commission took concrete action by issuing a pair of Final Rules, addressing (i) storage participation in regional markets; and (ii) the provision of primary frequency response, a critical grid support service. Continue Reading FERC Issues Final Rules on Electric Storage Participation in RTOs/ISOs and Primary Frequency Response for New Generators

In 2017, there were a record number of solar policies debated in state legislatures and commissions, with nearly every state considering some kind of solar policy or rate change. Recently, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its 50 States of Solar report which reviews solar policies and initiatives across the nation. In its report NCCETC found that there were 249 state actions on solar policies in 2017: 34% were related to residential fixed charges and minimum bill increases, 27% were distributed generation (DG) compensation policies, and 12% were community solar policies. The actions took place in 45 States plus the District of Columbia. That is up by 17% from 212 actions in 2016 and 42% from the 175 actions in 2015.   Continue Reading State-level Solar Policy Actions up 17% in 2017

Originally Posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report 

On January 18, 2018, FERC approved California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) changes to its resource adequacy program to, among other things, (1) allow capacity located in a local capacity area, but procured as system capacity, to provide system substitution capacity during forced outages and (2) cap a load serving entity’s (“LSE”) monthly local capacity requirement at its monthly system capacity requirement.

CAISO and the local regulatory authorities within its footprint administer the resource adequacy program to ensure that LSEs procure enough transmission system capacity to meet their forecasted load, plus a reserve margin set by their local regulatory authority.  Additionally, LSEs are required to procure local area capacity—capacity capable of meeting capacity requirements in a transmission-constrained area and that is also located within that area—and flexible resource adequacy capacity—resources that can ramp up and down quickly to manage variability.  Moreover, LSEs must submit annual and monthly resource adequacy plans to CAISO demonstrating that they have procured enough capacity to meet their forecasted load and reserve margin, while scheduling coordinators for resource adequacy resources submit annual and monthly supply plans that CAISO uses to verify that LSEs are meeting their resource adequacy requirements. Continue Reading FERC Approves Changes to CAISO’s Resource Adequacy Program

The House and Senate Conference Committee reached agreement on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) last Friday, December 15, 2017. The text of the bill (the Conference Agreement) is available here. Prior coverage of the House bill and a prior version of the Senate bill is available here and here, respectively.

PTC and ITC

The Conference Agreement, following the Senate bill, will not change the PTC or ITC from the current law phase-down.

Corporate Tax Rates

The Conference Agreement will lower the highest corporate tax rate to 21% beginning in 2018.

Continue Reading Conference Committee Reaches Agreement on Tax Reform Bill