Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

by
Section 309 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 825h, vests the Commission with broad remedial authority, including the authority to grant recoupment when it is justified; Section 201(f) does not limit the authority of the Commission to grant relief under Section 309 with respect to matters that are beyond the strictures of Sections 201(f) and 205; and an order of recoupment, as distinguished from an order to refund under Section 205, is beyond the strictures of Sections 201(f) and 205. In this case, Chehalis sought relief from the Commission by filing a Motion for an Order Requiring Recoupment of Payments, but the Commission concluded that it could not order recoupment because the Commission's refund authority does not extend to exempt public utilities such as the Intervenor Bonneville. The DC Circuit held that the Commission erred when it held that it lacked the authority to grant the Order Requiring Recoupment where the Commission clearly had jurisdiction over the subject of this dispute and the Commission retained the authority to order Bonneville to return the funds when the agency acknowledged that its initial order was mistaken. The court granted in part and denied in part Chehalis's petitions for review, and remanded for further proceedings. View "TNA Merchant Projects v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), 16 U.S.C. 824a-3, seeks to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by increasing the number of energy-efficient cogeneration and small power-production facilities. Oregon implements its PURPA responsibilities largely through its Public Utility Commission (OPUC), which has directed utilities subject to its jurisdiction to draft off-the-shelf, standard-form power-purchase agreements that OPUC then reviews for compliance with PURPA. OPUC has approved two standard-form power-purchase agreements submitted by petitioner Portland General Electric. Petitioner PáTu Wind Farm, a six-turbine, nine-megawatt generator in rural Oregon, is classified under PURPA as a small power producer. This appeal stems from the parties' dispute over the nature of Portland General's purchase obligation. The Commission ruled that under PURPA, Portland General must purchase all of PáTu’s power, though it rejected PáTu’s insistence that Portland General do so by utilizing a technology known as dynamic scheduling. The court concluded that PáTu’s petition dealing exclusively with Portland's refusal to utilize dynamic scheduling is without merit. Accordingly, the court denied PáTu’s petition. The court dismissed Portland's petition challenging the Commission's ruling that it must purchase all of PáTu’s power for lack of jurisdiction because FERC's orders were advisory. View "Portland General Electric Comp v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners challenged the Commissions' determinations following compliance filings by the regional transmission organization for New England's electric grid. The court concluded that the Transmission Owners have standing to bring their challenges, but concluded that the Commission's orders were not inconsistent with its past decisions; the Commission did not apply the wrong legal standard for measuring whether the Mobile-Sierra presumption had been overcome; and the Commission's determination was in accord with the evidence before it. In regard to State Petitioner's challenges, the court concluded that, in light of the clarifications made by the Commission, there is no inconsistency with Order No. 1000. The court also concluded that the Commission did not exceed its bounds of authority under the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 824(a). Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Emera Maine v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
Transmissions Owners provide transmission services for customers in New England. Consumers, Massachusetts and various consumer-side stakeholders, filed suit under section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 824e(a), alleging that Transmission Owners' base return on equity (ROE) had become unjust and unreasonable. At issue are FERC's orders in the section 206 proceeding. Both Transmission Owners and Customers filed petitions for review challenging whether FERC satisfied the statutory requirements under section 206 in setting a new ROE. The court explained that, to satisfy its dual burden under section 206, FERC was required to do more than show that its single ROE analysis generated a new just and reasonable ROE and conclusively declare that, consequently, the existing ROE was per se unjust and unreasonable. Therefore, the court concluded that, because FERC's single ROE analysis failed to include an actual finding as to the lawfulness of Transmission Owners' existing base ROE, FERC acted arbitrarily and outside of its statutory authority in setting a new base ROE for Transmission Owners. The court also concluded that FERC failed to provide any reasoned basis for selecting 10.57 percent as the new base ROE. Accordingly, the court granted the petitions for review, vacated FERC's orders, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Maine v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
Section 205 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 824d(a), mandates that all rates and charges demanded, or received by any public utility for the transmission or sale of electric energy subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission shall be just and reasonable. Xcel petitioned for review of three of the Commission's orders denying a retroactive refund for unlawful rates. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that, to the extent the Commission denied Xcel relief because it lacks authority to order refunds from Tri-County, a non-jurisdictional entity, this was not responsive to Xcel’s request. On the merits, the court concluded that the Commission’s reliance on section 2.4(a) of its regulations and related cases to deny Xcel retroactive relief is misplaced. Because the Commission’s reliance on section 2.4(a) of its regulations as applied in its precedent is inapposite, and its position that its section 205 error of law is irremediable beyond prospective relief under section 206 appears irreconcilable with the authority Congress granted it in section 309 to remedy its errors, the court granted the petition in part and remanded the case to the Commission for appropriate action. View "Xcel Energy Servs. Inc. v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
On September 16, 2013, the Commission issued an Order Conditionally Accepting Tariff Revisions filed by ISO New England. In the same order, the Commission rejected the tariff proposal to allocate costs to transmission owners as inconsistent with cost-causation principles and directed ISO New England to submit a compliance filing that would allocate the costs of the Program to Real-Time Load Obligation. On April 8, 2014, FERC issued orders denying requests for rehearing of the Orders issued in Docket ER13-1851 and Docket ER13-2266. TransCanada and the Retail Energy Supply Association filed petitions for review challenging the Orders issued by FERC approving the Winter 2013-14 Reliability Program. The court declined to assess FERC’s conditional approval of the Program in Docket ER13-1851 because FERC made it clear that its decision was only tentative. The court concluded that the Commission’s decision regarding the allocation of the costs of the Program to Load-Serving Entities was a final action in Docket ER13-1851 and is ripe for review; the court found no merit in petitioners' challenges to the cost-allocation decision; and therefore, the court denied the petitions for review of the cost-allocation decision in Docket ER13-1851. The court granted in part the petition for review of Docket ER13-2266 because FERC could not properly assess whether the Program’s rates were just and reasonable. View "TransCanada Power Marketing v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
Western Minnesota and intervenors petitioned for review of FERC's award of a permit for a hydroelectric project in Polk County, Iowa. The Commission concluded that the municipal preference under Section 7(a) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 800(a), applies only to municipalities “located in the[] vicinity” of the water resources to be developed. Petitioners claimed that the Commission’s geographic proximity test is an impermissible interpretation of the plain text of the statute. The court agreed that Congress has spoken directly to the question in defining “municipality” in Section 3(7) of the FPA. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, vacated the permit order and rehearing order, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Western Minnesota Municipal v. FERC" on Justia Law