On August 25, 2014, staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC Enforcement) issued a Notice of Alleged Violations (NAV) against City Power Marketing, LLC, and its principal owner, K. Stephen Tsingas. The Notice said that FERC Enforcement has preliminarily determined that City Power and Tsingas violated the Commission’s Anti-manipulation rule through Up To Congestion (UTC) trading in the PJM market. FERC Enforcement has defined UTC as “a virtual product that earns or loses money on the change between the Day ahead market and the Real time market of the spread in prices between two price nodes in PJM’s system.” See Preliminary Findings of Enforcement Staff’s Investigation in Powhatan Energy Fund, LLC, http://ferclitigation.com/wp-content/uploads/0005-FERC-Preliminary-Findings-August-9-2013-2002899_1.pdf. FERC Enforcement also alleged that City Power made false statements and omitted material information during the investigation. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Robert E. Pease
Bryan Loocke and Scott Thompson
On Tuesday August 19, 2014 the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) provided an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register. BOEM is seeking to update its regulations and program oversight for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) financial assurance requirements, and has solicited comments from stakeholders to assist its efforts. A full copy of the ANPR can be found at http://federalregister.gov/a/2014-19380.
Based on the assumption that existing bonding regulations are outdated and fail to adequately deal with the changed business landscape in which organizations now conduct offshore activities, the BOEM is seeking public input as it seeks to overhaul the current program encompassing risk management, financial assurance, and loss prevention requirements. (more…)
Lowell Rothschild and Kevin Ewing
Ruling on a pipeline project and a mine project, two different federal courts issued decisions Monday affirming limits on the scope of environmental review. The pipeline case was a challenge to Enbridge’s Flanagan South pipeline, designed to transport tar sands crude from Illinois to Oklahoma. The mine case involved Raven Crest Contracting’s Boone North No. 5 coal mine in West Virginia. Neither decision breaks new ground; their significance lies in reaffirming that NEPA analysis should be confined to the scope of the federal agencies’ control over the project in question. These cases encourage federal agencies to fend off demands for broader consideration of social and political issues surrounding major infrastructure projects. (more…)
On August 15, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued an opinion in South Carolina Public Service Authority v. FERC, Case Nos. 12-1232, et al. (consolidated), upholding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order No. 1000 in its entirety, giving FERC a major win in a case involving 45 petitioners and 16 intervenors.
Authority to Require Participation: In Order No. 888 in 1996, FERC required public utility transmission providers to functionally unbundle their wholesale generation and transmission services and file open-access transmission tariffs to provide non-discriminatory transmission service and to provide the benefits of competitively priced generation. Previously, the D.C. Circuit upheld Order No. 888 in nearly all respects. In this opinion, the D.C. Circuit affirmed FERC’s conclusion that transmission planning affects transmission rates and that FERC has authority under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA) to require transmission providers to participate in a regional planning process. The Court expressed its view that such a requirement is simply the next step in reforms that began with Order No. 888. The Court also concluded that the statutory directive for “voluntary interconnection and coordination” found in Section 202(a) of the FPA does not bar FERC from requiring regional planning and that Order No. 1000 does not interfere with traditional state authority. (more…)
Manuel Vera and Andrew Farris
On Monday, August 11, 2014, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a package of energy secondary laws passed by the Mexican Congress (the “Legislation”) that will overhaul the Mexican oil and natural gas, petrochemical, and power generation industries. The Legislation includes nine new laws and amendments to several current laws.
The cornerstones of the Mexican oil and gas reforms are the Hydrocarbons Law (Ley de Hidrocarburos) and the Hydrocarbons Revenue Tax Law (Ley de Ingresos Sobre Hidrocarburos). These new statutes regulate, among other items: (i) “entitlements” (asignaciones) granted to state-owned entities, such as Pemex; (ii) the types of exploration and production contracts that will be granted to Mexican and foreign operators as well as joint ventures between certain state-owned companies such as Pemex and private parties; (ii) the rules for the granting of such contracts and execution by the National Hydrocarbons Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos or “CNH”) through a public bid process; and (iv) the regulations for midstream and downstream activities, which will be overseen by the Ministry of Energy (Secretaría de Energía or “SENER”) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (Comisión Reguladora de Energía or “CRE”). (more…)
Richard Alonso, Jeff Holmstead, Tim Wilkins and Sandra Snyder
On August 12, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit issued under the Clean Air Act (CAA) by EPA to the Avenal Power Center. Sierra Club v. EPA, No. 11-73342 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2014). The PSD permit authorized the construction of a 600 MW natural gas-fired plant located in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The plant was required to install state-of-the-art pollution controls for all traditionally regulated pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. The Court vacated the PSD permit because it found it was improper for EPA to issue a PSD permit that did not address new CAA requirements that were promulgated by EPA after the application was submitted.
Although EPA has the authority to grandfather pending applications, it must exercise that authority through regulation by setting an effective date for the new regulation which would make the regulation applicable to permit applications submitted after a given date. When EPA does not address grandfathering in its regulations, the court stated that all PSD permits that are not final prior to the effective date of the new rule must be revised to address any new regulatory requirement, even if the permit had already been through the public comment process. The Court implied that any new assessment would likely need to go through a separate public comment process. (more…)