Independent System Operator

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s much-anticipated new rule will enhance the participation of electric storage resources in the organized wholesale electricity markets.

By Michael Gergen, David E. Pettit, and Peter Viola

Nearly a year and a half after issuing its original proposal, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has unanimously adopted its final rule—Order No. 841—on Electric Storage Participation in Markets Operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (Storage Rule). The Storage Rule is the culmination of FERC’s proceedings following the notice of proposed rulemaking issued in November 2016 (Storage NOPR) whereby FERC originally proposed enhancing the participation of electric storage resources in the organized capacity, energy, and ancillary service auction markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs).

The Storage Rule recognizes the improving capabilities and cost-competitiveness of electric storage resources (such as batteries, flywheels, pumped-hydro, etc.) and is designed to further pave the way for such resources to participate in the organized wholesale electricity markets alongside conventional energy sources. At the same time, the Commission determined that further information is needed about proposed reforms related to market participation of aggregations of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the RTO/ISO markets. The Commission therefore directed FERC staff to convene a technical conference on April 10-11, 2018 to gather additional information before deciding what action to take on those proposals.

By Marc T. Campopiano, Joshua T. Bledsoe, Douglas Porter, Danny AleshireJennifer Roy and Andrew Yancey

The end of the California State Legislature’s regular session for the year culminated in a frenzy of action, with Assembly members scrambling to pass dozens of bills before midnight on September 12, 2015. The California Legislature voted on a package of 12 bills addressing environmental and health concerns, such as off-shore drilling, divestment of investment funding from coal companies, water quality, energy efficiency in disadvantaged communities, and increased public transportation. This post analyzes three of the more significant and controversial bills proposed this year, including last minute changes to each during the final week of the session: SB 350; SB 32; and AB 1288.

SB 350 (De León): The Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015

The most far-reaching climate change goals of the climate bill package were enshrined in SB 350. The proposed bill, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and Senator Mark Leno, originally called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings, and for 50 percent of the state’s utility power to be derived from renewable energy, all by 2030; termed the “50-50-50” formula.

These standards paralleled Governor Jerry Brown’s climate change agenda for the year, which was first announced during his inaugural address in January. Last Wednesday, following a failure to garner the necessary votes amid resistance from moderate Democrats, state legislative leaders amended SB 350 to drop requirements for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use for cars and trucks. As modified, the bill passed on a 52-27 vote.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe, Marc T. Campopiano, and Max Friedman

As California begins to turn the page on the first chapter of its efforts to combat climate change through AB 32 and to prepare for greater emissions reductions over the coming decades, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are considering what these changes will mean for electricity transmission infrastructure. To that end, CEC Chair Robert Weisenmiller and CPUC President Michael Picker sent a letter to Cal-ISO President and CEO Stephen Berberich on July 31, 2015 asking him to participate in the planning stages of the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) 2.0. Since 2008, the first iteration of RETI has served as a statewide initiative to identify and implement the energy transmission projects needed to accommodate California’s renewable energy requirements.

Now, with Governor Brown’s executive order to cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a number of legislative proposals advancing to set further greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets for 2030 and beyond, as well as the US EPA’s federal Clean Power Plan encouraging regional coordination among states to increase renewable electricity production, the CEC and CPUC feel that the time has come to bring RETI up to date.

By Joshua T. Bledsoe and Douglas K. Porter

On June 10, 2015, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) released a draft final proposal (the “Expanded Metering and Telemetry Options Phase 2, Distributed Energy Resource Provider”) that, if finalized, would represent an initial  step towards a regulatory structure that would result in distributed energy resources (“DERs”) competing in California wholesale energy markets.  DERs are resources that are physically connected to the distribution grid of an electric utility (e.g., rooftop solar, energy storage, plug-in electric vehicles, and demand response).  In order for DERs to sell into the CAISO wholesale markets, they would use the distribution grid of the electric utility to deliver power to or to take power from the transmission grid.  Currently, the vast majority of existing renewable resources sell their power to California’s electric utilities.  Those distributed resources are compensated by electric utilities for the electricity they generate at a rate far in excess of current CAISO market prices.  In addition, those resources do not have the right or the ability to sell power directly into the wholesale market.  Absent the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) adopting a substantially revised regulatory structure that sorts out the thorny jurisdictional, economic and technical issues (e.g., metering and compensation for resources located behind the retail meter), the immediate impact of CAISO’s proposal may be modest at best.

By Michael J. Gergen and Marc T. Campopiano

On October 16, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an Order on Tariff Revisions, FERC Docket No. ER14-2574, conditionally accepting, with two substantive modifications, tariff changes proposed by the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) to establish new flexible resource adequacy capacity (“FRAC”) and must-offer obligation (“MOO”) requirements intended to ensure that adequate flexible capacity is available to address the added variability and net load volatility associated with ongoing and expected future changes on the CAISO-controlled grid.  The FRAC-MOO requirements will be effective, subject to a compliance filing by the CAISO (due within 30 days of the date of the order), effective November 1, 2014, to allow load serving entities (“LSEs”) subject to the requirements time to make their first FRAC showings to the CAISO by November 15, 2014.

By Michael J. Gergen and Andrew H. Meyer

On August 1, 2014, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) filed proposed tariff changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) in FERC Docket No. ER14-2574 that would establish new flexible resource adequacy capacity (“FRAC”) and must-offer obligation (“MOO”) requirements aimed at ensuring that adequate flexible capacity is available to address the added variability and net load volatility associated with ongoing and expected future changes on the CAISO-controlled grid. In its filing, the CAISO proposes a November 1, 2014, effective date for the tariff changes establishing the FRAC-MOO so that they will apply to resource adequacy showings beginning in January 2015.  FERC has set Friday, August 22, 2014, as the due date for comments on the CAISO’s FRAC-MOO proposal.        

By Michael J. Gergen, Eli Hopson, and Andrew H. Meyer

The California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) is moving forward with a stakeholder initiative to examine issues with connecting energy storage facilities to the CAISO controlled grid under the CAISO’s existing interconnection rules, and to develop new policies as needed to clarify and facilitate interconnection of energy storage. 

By Michael J. Gergen, Jared W. Johnson, and David E. Pettit

On June 19, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) conditionally accepted revisions to the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) FERC Electric Tariff to implement the CAISO’s proposed Energy Imbalance Market (“EIM”) that will allow neighboring balancing area authorities (“BAAs”) in the western states to participate in the imbalance energy portion of the CAISO’s real-time market.  Energy imbalance services have long been required as an “ancillary service” under FERC’s open access regulations and pro forma open access transmission tariff (“OATT”).  In its proposal, the CAISO noted that the EIM was effectively an expansion of its existing real-time energy market allowing to take part in the EIM alongside entities already transacting within the CAISO.  PacifiCorp’s two BAAs will be the first to participate in the EIM, and in a concurrent order, FERC also conditionally accepted in large part corresponding revisions to PacifiCorp’s OATT.  NV Energy has also entered into an implementation agreement with the CAISO to join the EIM.  Although several market participants protested various aspects of the CAISO’s proposed design of the EIM, most of it was approved by FERC.  The CAISO plans to start the new EIM on October 1, 2014.    

By Michael J. Gergen, Jared W. Johnson, and Andrew H. Meyer

The California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) has taken a significant step toward proposing a new ancillary service known as the “Flexible Ramping Product” as part of its market design.  With increasing levels of variable energy resources on the CAISO-controlled grid, maintaining power balance requires increased ramping capability, as the variable outputs of the renewable resources may increase the magnitude of 5-minute to 5-minute net load changes.  In a Straw Proposal issued June 2, 2014, the CAISO proposes to use the Flexible Ramping Product to address these emerging operational challenges relating to maintaining power balance in real-time dispatch.  In doing so, the CAISO emphasized that while its existing regulation service product could be called upon to address forecast uncertainties, procuring more regulation service is problematic from an economic and market efficiency perspective both because the generating capacity of some resources must be reserved to provide regulation service and because more real-time dispatch prices will be compensated at administratively-set penalty rates.  The CAISO stated that its Flexible Ramping Product is designed to deal with uncertainties that are realized before the binding real-time dispatch using a market-based design to procure ramping capacity in the CAISO’s day-ahead market, fifteen-minute market and real-time dispatch.

By Michael J. Gergen and Miles B. Farmer

On May 23, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court issued a decision in Electric Power Supply Association v. FERC (“EPSA”) vacating and remanding FERC’s Order No. 745, which provides compensation for demand response resources that participate in the energy markets administered by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”).  The decision holds that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) did not have jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) to issue Order No. 745 because demand response is part of the retail market, which is exclusively within the states’ jurisdiction to regulate.  Furthermore, the court holds that even if FERC did have jurisdiction under the FPA to issue Order No. 745, the Order would still fail as arbitrary and capricious because FERC failed to properly consider concerns of the petitioner and other parties that Order No. 745 would result in unjust and unreasonable rates because it would overcompensate demand response resources.