FERC Approves New Extreme Cold Weather Reliability Standards

On February 16, 2023, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved two new North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Reliability Standards: EOP-011-3 (Emergency Operations) and EOP-012-01 (Extreme Cold Weather Preparedness and Operations). The new standards stem from FERC and NERC’s joint inquiry into Winter Storm Uri — the February 2021 winter storm event that led to the largest controlled firm load shed event in U.S. history, with over 4.5 million people losing power and at least 210 people losing their lives. The joint inquiry resulted in the issuance of a November 2021 report that included recommendations for NERC reliability standard enhancements to improve extreme cold weather operations, preparedness, and coordination. The November 2021 report found that the bulk power system “cannot operate reliability without adequate generation.”[1]

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FERC Opens 2023 With Leadership Transition

Former U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) Chairman Richard Glick has officially departed the independent Commission after failing to secure a reconfirmation hearing before the Senate in December 2022. Glick’s departure leaves the Commission with a 2–2 split between Democrats and Republicans that could stall a number of major initiatives that were ongoing under the former Chairman and the Commission’s Democratic majority.

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FERC’s June Open Meeting Dominated by Electric Transmission Proposed Rulemakings

NOPR to Reform Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements

On June 16, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took another step to ease access to the transmission grid with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) on Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements. The NOPR seeks to reform FERC’s current procedures and agreements, and in doing so (1) address the significant interconnection queue backlogs, (2) provide greater certainty, and (3) prevent undue discrimination against new generation technologies. (more…)

D.C. Circuit Strikes Down ACE Rule

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE), which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated in 2019 to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP had sought to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants, in part, by authorizing states to increase renewable generation. As explained in a previous post, EPA had reasoned that it had the discretion to define the best system of emission reduction (BSER) at a plant under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (Act) to include measures employed outside the facility (such as new renewable resources) that were located “beyond the fenceline.” Stayed by the Supreme Court in 2016, the CPP never went into effect. Instead, the Trump administration repealed the CPP and replaced it with ACE. In ACE, EPA reasoned that Section 111 of the Act required EPA to only find BSER to be a technology that could be applied “inside the fenceline” on the facility.

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EPA Issues Final Power Plant Wastewater Rule

On August 31, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule addressing effluent concentration limits for certain metals in power plant wastewater under the Clean Water Act. The Steam Electric Reconsideration Rule (SERR) changes several aspects of the coal-fired power plant effluent limitations included in the 2015 Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards rule, including the limits for two waste streams: flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater and bottom ash (BA) transport water. (more…)

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Approves First Small Modular Reactor Design

On August 28, 2020, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the first-ever design certification application for a small modular reactor (SMR) through its issuance of a final safety evaluation report that outlines the agency’s multiyear, six-phased technical review. The agency approval represents a milestone for the U.S. nuclear sector and advanced nuclear technologies.

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English Court Rules on 2002 ISDA Master Close Out Provisions

The English court of first instance has provided important guidance on the close-out provisions under the 2002 ISDA Master Agreement. Particular findings of note which will be of interest to all users of the 2002 form where English law is selected are:

  • The determining party must use objectively reasonable processes and must also reach an objectively reasonable result when making close-out calculations under the 2002 ISDA Master. This contrasts with the 1992 ISDA Master, where the English courts have found the more subjective standard of “rationality” applies.
  • Although the 2002 ISDA Master permits the use of indicative quotations, it is not commercially reasonable for a determining party to rely on them when it proposes to enter into a replacement transaction shortly afterward.
  • Once a party has submitted a calculation following termination, it is not open to that party to withdraw and replace it. However, the court may take into account revised calculations when determining what range of results a calculation in line with the ISDA Master would have arrived at.
  • The judge was unwilling to accept mark-to-market valuations or modeled evaluations as evidence for the price at which a replacement transaction would have been available in the market where they differed from actual quotations obtained from leading dealers in the market at the relevant time.

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