A coalition of more than 25 states, including Minnesota as of last week, and various cities have petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for review of the Trump administration’s promulgation of the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE Rule). The ACE Rule repeals the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and
FERC Issues Orders Revising Requirements for Market-Based Rate Sellers
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) issued two orders on July 18, 2019 revising the requirements applicable to market-based rate (“MBR”) sellers. The first, Order No. 861, lightens the regulatory requirements for MBR sellers in certain RTO/ISO-administered markets by eliminating the requirement to submit indicative screens in the horizontal market power analysis in initial MBR applications, triennial updates, and change-in-status notices. The second, Order No. 860, may also lighten regulation by reducing the amount of ownership information MBR sellers must report to the Commission, but also imposes new reporting requirements, including submissions to a relational database that will be maintained by FERC Staff to link MBR sellers and their affiliates.
Order No. 861
Order No. 861 eliminates the requirement that MBR sellers in RTO/ISO-administered energy, ancillary services, and capacity markets subject to FERC-approved RTO/ISO market monitoring and mitigation submit indicative horizontal market power screens. Instead, a seller may include a statement in its filing that it is relying on FERC-approved market monitoring and mitigation to mitigate any potential market power. With the exception of MBR sellers making capacity sales in CAISO and SPP, discussed below, this will lighten regulation on MBR sellers in ISOs/RTOs by eliminating the requirement to submit indicative screens in their initial MBR applications, triennial updates, and change-in-status notices.
The exemption will not apply to MBR sellers making capacity sales in CAISO or SPP, because CAISO and SPP do not have an RTO/ISO-administered capacity market. In addition, the Commission determined that MBR capacity sellers in CAISO and SPP can no longer rely on the rebuttable presumption that FERC-approved RTO/ISO market monitoring and mitigation is sufficient to address horizontal market power concerns for their capacity sales in CAISO and SPP. Therefore, SPP and CAISO capacity sellers must still submit indicative screens and, now, any seller that fails the indicative screens must submit a delivered price test or other evidence that it lacks market power in the capacity markets. CAISO and SPP sellers will be able to rely on Order No. 861’s exemption for their sales of energy and ancillary services.
The order is effective September 24, 2019 and FERC Staff announced that the new rules will be applicable to triennial reviews for the Northeast region due in December 2019 and June 2020.…
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Renewable Energy Trending in State Legislative Sessions
State legislatures across the country have been active this spring debating ambitious new targets and renewable energy market reforms, following the successful passage of multiple renewable energy mandates in certain states. Last year California passed SB 100, which sets the target of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. At least other three states—Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington—have also adopted 100% renewable energy targets and, according to Inside Climate News, several other states debated 100% renewable energy legislation this spring including Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts.
Like other states adopting renewable energy mandates, the Washington legislature specifically concluded “that Washington must address the impacts of climate change by leading the transition to a clean energy economy … by transforming its energy supply.” To support this goal, the Act mandates 100% renewable electricity generation by 2045. To help achieve this, section six of the Washington law mandates that utilities must file a
“four-year clean energy implementation plan” by 2022 and every four years after that. Each action plan must include “specific actions to be taken by investor-owned utility[ies] over the next four years … that demonstrate progress toward meeting the standards … of [the] act.” By requiring the utilities to provide relatively frequent updates, the Washington legislature appears to indicate a desire for strong oversight of the transition to 100% renewable electricity generation.
In other states, such as Minnesota, 100% carbon-free targets were the subject of substantial attention and debate but were not ultimately adopted. The Minnesota legislature ultimately passed a jobs and energy omnibus bill in a special session this year with more limited ambition—including provisions for energy storage pilot programs, which will allow public utilities to pursue and recover costs for such programs. The pilot program petitions, at a minimum, must provide: (1) the storage technology utilized; (2) the energy storage capacity and the duration of the output at the capacity; (3) the proposed location; (4) the cost of purchase and installation; (5) the interplay between the storage facility and existing distributed generation resources; and (6) the overall goals of the project. …
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California Public Utilities Commission Opens Rulemaking to Consider Expansion of Direct Access
At its March 14, 2019 voting meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) voted out an Order Instituting Rulemaking (“OIR”) to Implement Senate Bill 237 (“SB 237”) Regarding Direct Access and to Consider Changes to Existing Direct Access Procedures. The Rulemaking will address the expansion of Direct Access, as required by SB 237.
Direct Access permits customers of a California investor-owned utility (“IOU”) (e.g., Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison) to obtain their electricity from an electric service provider registered with the CPUC. The IOU continues to provide transmission and distribution service to the customer. Direct access was instituted in 1998 as part of California’s efforts to deregulate the electric sector.
As part of California’s efforts to recover from the energy crisis in 2000-2001, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 1X (“AB1X”), which authorized the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) to begin procuring electricity on behalf of IOU customers, and required the CPUC to allow DWR to recover the costs of such procurement from IOU ratepayers. AB1X also authorized the CPUC to suspend Direct Access, motivated by a concern that IOU ratepayers would flee to Direct Access to avoid paying the cost of DWR procurement.…
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Key Energy Related Bills Introduced in the 2019-2020 Legislative Session
The 2019-2020 California Legislative Session has reached its first deadline. February 22, 2019 marked the deadline by which bills could be introduced for the first half of the Legislative Session. Lawmakers will begin Spring Recess April 12 and reconvene April 22. The last day for bills to be passed out of the house of origin is May 31, 2019.
Below is a list of some of the key bills Stoel Rives’ Energy Team will be monitoring throughout the Legislative Session. We note that some bills do not contain language beyond the “intent of the Legislature.” However, we will continue to monitor these bills in case of substantive amendments. These bills are set forth separately below under the heading “Legislative Intent.”
The majority of the bills introduced this Legislative Session relate in some way to California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move to cleaner sources of generation, including legislation governing electric vehicles, energy storage, and renewable energy. A number of bills introduced in February also attempt to address the impacts of wildfires, or to reduce wildfire risk.
AB 40 (Ting, D) Zero-emission vehicles: comprehensive strategy.
Status: Introduced December 3, 2018; referred to Committees on Transportation and Natural Resources January 24, 2019.
AB 40 would require by no later than January 1, 2021, the State Air Resources Board to develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure that the sales of new motor vehicles and new light-duty trucks in the state have transitioned fully to zero-emission vehicles, as defined, by 2040, as specified.
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Interconnection Modernization Underway in Minnesota
In a recent order from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the “Commission”), Minnesota took a big step to update the state’s interconnection process and standard interconnection agreement for distributed energy resources or “DERs.” This ongoing process relates to Minn. Stat. § 216B.1611 which directs the Commission to establish generic standards for utilities’ tariffs that govern…
STAYING LOCAL: FEDERAL COURT AFFIRMS CONSTITUTIONALITY OF MINN. STAT. § 216B.246 AND ADOPTS SUPREME COURT TRACY RULE
On June 21, 2018, the United States District Court, District of Minnesota issued an order and memorandum rejecting a challenge to the constitutionality of Minn. Stat. § 216B.246 and granting defendants’ motions to dismiss. The statute, which was enacted after FERC Order 1000 (and eliminating the federal right of first refusal or “ROFR”), provides incumbent…
MINNESOTA PAVES THE WAY FOR MORE EV TRAFFIC ON THE ROADS
On May 9, 2018 the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued an order approving Xcel Energy’s residential electric vehicle (“EV”) pilot program (the “Pilot”), designed as an alternative to Xcel’s existing EV tariff, concluding that the Pilot will “benefit all ratepayers by aiding Xcel in its efforts to integrate EV load as cost-effectively as possible.” A…
Updates to Energy-Related Bills in the 2017-2018 California Legislative Session
Stoel Rives’ Energy Team has been monitoring and providing summaries of key energy-related bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 legislative session. Legislators have been busy moving bills through the legislative process since reconvening from the spring recess. Below is a summary and status of bills we have been following.
An enrolled bill is one that has been through the proofreading process and is sent to the Governor to take action. A two-year bill is a bill taken out of consideration during the first year of a regular legislative session, with the intent of taking it up again during the second half of the session.
- Since our last update, the Governor has vetoed one bill and signed the others that were sent for approval earlier this session.
- Several bills we previously reported on have become two-year bills, but without much movement in this second half of the session.
- Several new bills have been introduced that are currently going through the process of amendments and hearings.
Bills Passed Since Last Update
SB 549 (Bradford, D): Public utilities: reports: moneys for maintenance, safety and reliability.
STATUS: Approved by Governor September 25, 2017.
- Existing law places various responsibilities upon the CPUC to ensure that public utility services are provided in a manner that protects the public safety and the safety of utility employees.
- SB 549 requires an electrical or gas corporation to annually notify the CPUC each time that capital or expense revenue authorized by the CPUC for maintenance, safety or reliability is redirected for other purposes, and requires the CPUC to make the notification available to the Office of Safety Advocate, Office of Ratepayer Advocates, and to the service list of any relevant proceeding.
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5 Key Takeaways from FERC’s Recent Energy Storage Order
In February, FERC issued Order 841, Electric Storage Participation in Markets Operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (the “Order”), requiring RTOs and ISOs to establish new market participation rules for energy storage that recognize the physical and operational characteristics of these resources. While the Order set forth some minimal requirements that…