On April 7, 2023, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Order Accepting Tariff Revisions Subject to Condition (183 FERC ¶ 61,009) approving a PJM Interconnection LLC (PJM) proposal to limit the power capacity values of wind, solar, and hybrid resources within PJM’s recently adopted grid reliability framework.
On March 22, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Court) granted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Motion for Default Judgment and entered a default judgment against Powhatan Energy Fund, LLC (Powhatan Energy Fund). The Court awarded FERC $3,465,108 in disgorgement and $16,800,000 in civil penalties.
On February 16, 2023, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved two new North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Reliability Standards: EOP-011-3 (Emergency Operations) and EOP-012-01 (Extreme Cold Weather Preparedness and Operations). The new standards stem from FERC and NERC’s joint inquiry into Winter Storm Uri — the February 2021 winter storm event that led to the largest controlled firm load shed event in U.S. history, with over 4.5 million people losing power and at least 210 people losing their lives. The joint inquiry resulted in the issuance of a November 2021 report that included recommendations for NERC reliability standard enhancements to improve extreme cold weather operations, preparedness, and coordination. The November 2021 report found that the bulk power system “cannot operate reliability without adequate generation.”
A series of threats to the U.S. power grid have elevated physical grid security as a key concern for federal energy regulators. On December 15, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to reassess its existing security rules in light of recent grid attacks.
On January 19, 2023, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final rule (RM22-3) (the Rule) directing the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop and submit for approval reliability standards that require internal network security monitoring (INSM) within a trusted Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) networked environment for all high-impact bulk electric system (BES) cyber systems and medium-impact BES cyber systems with external routable connectivity. FERC also directed NERC to study all low-impact BES cyber systems and medium-impact BES cyber systems without external routable connectivity (Other BES). NERC has 15 months to submit its proposed reliability standards for approval and 12 months to submit a report on its study of the Other BES.
Former U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) Chairman Richard Glick has officially departed the independent Commission after failing to secure a reconfirmation hearing before the Senate in December 2022. Glick’s departure leaves the Commission with a 2–2 split between Democrats and Republicans that could stall a number of major initiatives that were ongoing under the former Chairman and the Commission’s Democratic majority.
This Sidley Energy Enforcement update covers:
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approves settlement between Enforcement staff and Coaltrain
- Both FERC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) enforcement reports highlight the respective agency’s continued commitment to strong enforcement
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholds FERC’s finding that BP manipulated the natural gas market but remands to FERC to recalculate its $20 million penalty
- CFTC orders Glencore to pay a record-setting penalty of $1.186 billion
- CFTC and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) orders over $1.8 billion in fines against 11 firms for recordkeeping failure — employees using unapproved method of communications such as texts and WhatsApp on personal devices
On September 9, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Scoping Period Requesting Comments on Environmental Issues for the Proposed Carbon Capture and Sequestration System Amendment, and Notice of Public Scoping Sessions (Notice) requesting public comment on the environmental effects of a proposed carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) systems addition to the Rio Grande Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal (Terminal). This marks the first time FERC has requested public comment on the potential environmental effects, environmental mitigation measures, and reasonable alternatives related to CCS technology as part of National Environmental Policy Act review for an LNG terminal facility.
On July 19, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that debtors in bankruptcy may reject regulated energy contracts, vacating two Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders to the contrary, in Gulfport Energy Corp. v. FERC. The question turned on how a party’s ability to reject executory contracts in bankruptcy interacts with FERC’s ability to determine whether a party can abrogate or modify contracts that constitute filed rates under a doctrine referred to as Mobile-Sierra. The court found that FERC cannot use its Natural Gas Act authority over contract abrogation and modification to countermand a debtor’s bankruptcy-law rights or the bankruptcy court’s powers.
On Friday, June 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) upheld a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Turlock Irrigation District et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission et al. ruling that the California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) did not waive its authority to issue permits in connection with FERC’s licensing of the Don Pedro and La Grange hydroelectric plants (the Projects) in central California under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. (more…)