Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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Before the DC Circuit's decision in Albany Engineering Corp. v. FERC, 548 F.3d 1071 (D.C. Cir. 2008), parallel federal and New York state regulatory regimes required downstream hydroelectric facilities to reimburse their headwater counterparts for certain costs. Albany changed that dual-track regulatory scheme by holding that the New York State assessment regime was preempted by section 10(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), which entitled the District to recover only "interest, maintenance, and depreciation" costs. In the wake of Albany, Erie petitioned FERC to credit it for costs the District had assessed it in excess of the federally mandated costs. The Commission denied Erie's request and denied a rehearing, based on its determining that Erie and the District had formally settled their state law dispute over headwater charges in 2006. The DC Circuit denied Erie's petition to vacate the Commission's orders, rejecting Erie's contention that the Commission's two 2015 orders ran contrary to section 10(f) of the FPA; the 2006 Settlement; the Commission's regulations; and a "legion of prior, unchallenged Commission orders." View "Erie Boulevard Hydropower, LP v. FERC" on Justia Law

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AOPL petitioned for review of FERC's issuance of an order adopting the index formula to govern oil pipeline rates for the 2016 to 2021 period. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that there was no merit to AOPL's claim that FERC impermissibly relied solely on the middle 50 percent of pipeline cost-change data and failed to incorporate the middle 80 percent of cost-change data, and that FERC impermissibly used "Page 700" cost-of-service data to calculate the index level. The court held that the record makes it plain that the Commission adequately and reasonably explained its decision not to consider the middle 80 percent of pipelines' cost-change data; nothing in any of FERC's past index review orders bound the agency to use the middle 80 percent of pipelines' cost-change data; the Commission's rationale for utilizing the cost-of-service data from Page 700 was clear and reasonable; and there was nothing in the record to support AOPL's claim that FERC's decision to use Page 700 data indicates an unexplained shift in its measurement objective. View "Association of Oil Pipe Lines v. FERC" on Justia Law

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SPP, a regional transmission organization (RTO), filed with FERC revisions to its tariff that reflected an agreement with Integrated System entities to integrate their facilities. Pursuant to the requirements of section 205 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824d, SPP filed with FERC revisions to its tariff that reflected the parties' agreement. FERC approved the revisions over the objections of Kansas. The DC Circuit denied Kansas' petition for review, holding that FERC accurately described the agreement as reciprocal; Kansas misread various precedents and the court rejected its contention that the arrangement violated critical norms of ratemaking; the court saw no basis for a claim of undue discrimination; and the court rejected Kansas' arguments regarding SPP's reliance on a study commissioned by the IS Parties. Finally, FERC did not abuse its discretion by deciding not to hold an evidentiary hearing on the disputed features of the record underlying its approval of the merger. View "State Corp. Commission of KS v. FERC" on Justia Law

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This case involves the allocation of production costs among the Entergy Operation Companies. LPSC petitioned for review of FERC's implementation of its decision to delay the effective date of the Bandwidth Remedy. The DC Circuit denied LPSC's petition with respect to FERC's advancement of the effective date to the 2005 period, and denied its petition as to the application of the Bandwidth Remedy to the 2005 period. The court granted FERC's request to remand to FERC for further consideration of the denial of Section 206 refunds for the September 2001-May 2003 effective period. View "Louisiana Public Service Commission v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Orangeburg challenged the Commission's approval of an agreement between two utilities, alleging that the approval constituted an authorization of the North Carolina Utilities Commission's (NCUC) unlawful regime. The DC Circuit held that Orangeburg has standing to challenge the Commission's approval because, among other reasons, the city has demonstrated an imminent loss of the opportunity to purchase a desired product (reliable and low-cost wholesale power), and because that injury was fairly traceable to the Commission's approval of the agreement at issue. On the merits, the court held that the Commission failed to justify its approval of the agreement's disparate treatment of wholesale ratepayers; to justify the disparity, the Commission relied exclusively on one line from a previous FERC order that, without additional explication, appeared either unresponsive or legally unsound. Accordingly, the court vacated in part the orders approving the agreement and denying rehearing, and remanded. View "Orangeburg, South Carolina v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Section 205 of the Federal Power Act does not allow FERC to make modifications to a proposal that transform the proposal into an entirely new rate of FERC's own making. Electricity generators petitioned for review of FERC's decision modifying PJM's proposed changes to its rate structure. FERC's modifications created a new rate scheme that was significantly different from PJM's proposal and from PJM's prior rate design. The D.C. Circuit held that FERC contravened the limitation on its Section 205 authority. Therefore, the court granted the petitions for review and vacated FERC's orders with respect to several aspects of PJM's proposed rate structure -- the self-supply exemption, the competitive entry exemption, unit-specific review, and the mitigation period. The court remanded to FERC. View "NRG Power Marketing, LLC v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The Commission determined that Florida Power overcharged Seminole for electricity and ordered a refund. Seminole petitioned for review, claiming that it was entitled to a larger refund. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that the Commission correctly concluded that the service agreement required Seminole to make any challenge to a bill within 24 months of receiving that bill, and thus limited Florida Power's refund liability. The court also held that, in the face of ambiguity, the Commission reasonably concluded that the tariff allowed transmission providers to use non-apportionment. View "Seminole Electric Cooperative v. FERC" on Justia Law

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LPSC petitioned for review of FERC's rejection of LPSC's request to reform certain depreciation rates. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review and rejected LPSC's claim that FERC failed to confront its asserted evidence of undue discrimination where FERC fulfilled such obligations; FERC precedent did not require the use of FERC's own depreciation standards; and there has been no unlawful subdelegation because FERC has exercised, and intends to continue to exercise, its authority. View "Louisiana Public Service Commission v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the Commissions' approval of revisions to the rules governing the buying and selling of "capacity" for markets operated by PJM. The DC Circuit held that the Commission balanced the benefits of the revised rules against the increased costs and reached a reasoned judgment. Therefore, the Commission's decision was not arbitrary nor capricious. The court deferred to the Commission's interpretation of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824e, because its interpretation of the Act's requirements was reasonable; deferred to the Commission's balancing of competing concerns in setting a penalty rate; and rejected challenges to the default offer cap, the year-round capacity commitment, orders approving PJM's demand resource rules, and imposition of Capacity Performance penalties on resources that fail to perform due to unit-specific constraints. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Advanced Energy Management Alliance v. FERC" on Justia Law