Ruta Kalvaitis Skučas

Green Power and the 2020 California Blackouts

This week, California experienced its first blackouts in nearly 20 years. On August 19, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) issued another state-wide flex alert, calling on the public to reduce energy use to prevent rotating power outages. As the state’s heat wave enters its seventh day, the temperature in California today will again reach dangerous levels and will continue to strain the system. While the exact cause of the recent blackouts is under investigation, Assemblyman Jim Patterson pointed to the unreliability of renewable power and the state’s reduced dependence on natural gas.

CAISO called the events this week a “perfect storm,” caused by the heat wave and corresponding spike in demand, simultaneous loss of some sources of power, and inability to import out-of-state electricity. When the sun sets, electricity generated by solar facilities drops, removing thousands of megawatts of solar power from the system while demand, fueled by the record-breaking heat, remains high.

Despite allegations that renewables are unreliable, there is no indication

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

Powering America Hearing on Transmission Infrastructure Development: FERC Isn’t Batting 1000

On May 10, 2018, the House Energy Subcommittee held a hearing on the state of electric transmission infrastructure, particularly focusing on transmission planning, the efficacy of Order No. 1000 and the future of the transmission grid.  Important take-aways from the hearing included:

  • Consensus that Order No. 1000 has not worked to incentivize transmission infrastructure development in the way that was intended, and particularly, has not resulted in development of interregional transmission projects.
  • The Commission and Congress should rethink transmission incentives, including considering how to best incentivize new technology and whether performance-based incentives might be appropriate.
  • Significant offshore wind generation is coming to the East Coast; we need to think about how to best support its interconnection.

Six witnesses testified on the state of transmission infrastructure.  Former FERC Commissioner Tony Clark, now a senior advisor at the law firm of Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP, discussed the white paper he recently issued, considering the status and efficacy of Order No.

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