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RRA Focus on FERC — March 2017: Awaiting a quorum, work goes on

The absence of a quorum at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission continued over the last several weeks. With only two sitting commissioners, FERC cannot vote out orders for the foreseeable future. However, certain administrative activities continue, including an announcement that the commission will hold a technical conference in May to explore federal-state jurisdictional issues associated with wholesale power market operations and state initiatives to support local generation resources. Summaries of issues before FERC that are covered in RRA's new March 15 report, "Focus on FERC – March 2017," are provided below.

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* Federal-State jurisdictional issues: On March 3, FERC announced it will hold a technical conference May 1-2 to discuss certain matters affecting wholesale energy and capacity markets operated by RTOs and ISOs in the Eastern U.S. FERC's public notice of the conference stated, "[I]n particular, Commission staff seeks to discuss long term expectations regarding the relative roles of wholesale markets and state policies in the Eastern RTOs/ISOs in shaping the quantity and composition of resources needed to cost-effectively meet future reliability and operational needs."

* Gas pipeline projects: On March 6, multiple parties filed requests for rehearing of FERC's Feb. 3 order approving the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline, a $3 billion Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC, or Transco, project to move gas from Appalachian shale areas to the Mid-Atlantic and South. The 1.7-Bcf/d expansion project would include about 200 miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania and Virginia, compression and related modifications to three compressor stations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and minor modifications to facilities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina to enable bidirectional flow on Transco's mainline.

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* Transmission planning: On Feb. 22, PG&E Corp. subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. filed a reply to a complaint filed by the California Public Utilities Commission and others asserting that PG&E is violating the transmission planning and stakeholder involvement requirements of FERC Order 890.

* Gas pipeline rates: On Feb. 17, Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America LLC filed a request for rehearing of FERC's Jan. 19 order instituting a formal investigation into NGPL's gas transportation rates. NGPL's request for rehearing followed a motion filed by the pipeline Jan. 30 requesting that FERC terminate the rate investigation, asserting that FERC's Jan. 19 order, among other things, incorrectly accounted for fuel revenues and expenses.

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* Gas pipeline projects: On March 9, RRA published a new report that examines FERC regulation and the certification of new gas pipeline projects from 2007 through 2016. The new report includes a brief history of FERC regulation, a description of how new gas projects are analyzed and approved by FERC, and how the authorized ROE is established for new gas pipeline projects.

For additional information concerning FERC regulation, see the Dec. 29, 2016, RRA report, "FERC Regulatory Review."

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