The filing deadline for FERC-566, the Annual Report of a Utility’s 20 Largest Customers, is coming up on January 31, 2015. Under this annual filing requirement, public utilities are required to prepare and publish a list that includes any company, firm, or organization that is one of the 20 largest retail purchasers of electric energy purchased (for purposes other than resale) from the public utility during any one of the three preceding calendar years. Even if no retail sales were made, under the regulations, public utilities are currently required to submit a brief filing notifying the Commission of that fact. This requirement is codified in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC” or “Commission”) regulations at 18 C.F.R. Part 46. (more…)
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Robert E. Pease and Catherine McCarthy
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Office of Enforcement (Enforcement) recently released its annual report on enforcement activities for 2014. As is typical, Enforcement identified its primary concerns as detecting and deterring fraud and manipulation in its markets and ensuring the safety and reliability of the grid. Enforcement also released statistics on its 2014 settlements ($25 million in civil penalties, $4 million in disgorgement) but those statistics concern cases that began years earlier and shed little light on what market participants should expect in 2015. In order to predict what we are likely to see in 2015, and the potential risks that companies may face from Enforcement actions, it is helpful to examine the currently pending cases and to understand the most recent internal changes within Enforcement. Also relevant to predicting what market participants can expect in 2015 are the following: the reach of FERC’s manipulation authority is being challenged in the courts, the Department of Energy’s Inspector General (IG) is examining FERC’s enforcement process and FERC will have a new Chairman and head of Enforcement in 2015. The current pending cases and these developments shed more light on what to expect in 2015 than the statistics FERC released concerning 2014.
In 2014, market participants, for the first time, showed a willingness to challenge Enforcement actions instead of settling. Five companies have refused to pay assessed civil penalties and settle thereby causing Enforcement to go to Federal court or to an administrative law judge to enforce the penalty and manipulation claims. These cases present the first court challenges to the reach of FERC’s anti-manipulation authority. We should expect more challenges in 2015 because another company has publicly vowed to challenge FERC should FERC proceed with a charge of manipulation. However, unless and until the courts narrow Enforcement’s reach, we should expect that Enforcement will continue to be aggressive in its prosecutions. (more…)
Robert E. Pease
On December 30,2014, the Commission approved four Stipulation and Consent Agreements (Agreements) between the Office of Enforcement (Enforcement) and Twin Cities Power – Canada, Ltd., Twin Cities Energy, LLC, and Twin Cities Power, LLC (collectively, Twin Cities), and Jason F. Vaccaro, Allan Cho, and Gaurav Sharma (collectively, the Traders). Enforcement accused Twin Cities and the Traders of violating the Commission’s anti-manipulation rule by manipulating electricity prices in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO) from January 2010 through January 2011 in order to benefit their related financial positions. Twin Cities admitted the violations and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $2,500,000 and disgorgement of $978,186 plus interest. Twin Cities will also implement measures designed to ensure compliance in the future, including submitting compliance reports for four years.
The Traders neither admit nor deny the violations and agreed to pay the following civil penalties: Jason Vaccaro, $400,000, Allan Cho, $275,000, Gaurav Sharma, $75,000. Additionally, the Traders agreed to physical trading bans as follows: Jason Vaccaro for five years, Allan Cho for four years, Gaurav Sharma for four years. The Traders will also implement measures designed to ensure compliance in the future, including submitting compliance reports. (more…)
Ty Johnson and Kirstin Gibbs
At its November 20, 2014 meeting, FERC issued a policy proposal to facilitate the recovery of the costs associated with improving pipeline safety and reducing emissions. Recognizing the fact that several pipeline safety and environmental initiatives will be facing the natural gas industry in the coming months, FERC suggests that pipelines and customers could work together to develop a tracker (e.g., a surcharge on base rates) that recovers those costs associated with pipeline safety and environmental compliance. Because a modernization and safety tracker could be developed faster than establishing a cost recovery mechanism through the traditional rate case process, FERC reasons that pipelines may be incentivized to undertake the upgrades. (more…)
In an order issued on November 20, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) directs regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (“ISOs”) to file a report on the status of how their market rules address fuel assurance challenges. ISOs have 90 days from the date of the Commission’s order to evaluate the specific fuel assurance challenges they may experience and prepare a report that comprehensively describes the actions they have already undertaken, and/or propose to undertake, in response to their unique fuel assurance concerns. (more…)
PJM Sets Out Framework For Continued Participation Of Demand Response In Wholesale Markets Following EPSAFriday, October 10, 2014 2:35 pm by Stephen Hug
On October 7, 2014, PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) a blueprint for the continued participation of demand response resources in its markets in the wake of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Electric Power Supply Ass’n v. Fed. Energy Reg. Comm’n, 753 F.3d 216 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (“EPSA”). In that case, the D.C. Circuit vacated Order No. 745, FERC’s rule governing the compensation of demand response resources in wholesale energy markets on the basis that the rule encroached upon state jurisdiction over retail sales. The court’s opinion casts significant doubt on FERC’s authority to require transmission providers to allow demand response to participate in their markets, with some wondering whether there is any room left for demand response in wholesale markets at all. (more…)