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Several weeks ago, we reported on a new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comments on whether its existing return on equity (ROE) policy should be revamped. A recent federal court of appeals ruling enhances the importance of this new FERC NOI for those concerned that the current policy encourages pipeline overbuilding. Under its existing policy, FERC grants virtually all new gas pipeline expansions an ROE of 14 percent regardless of…
Although primarily focused on the electric transmission industry, a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) announced reconsideration of how the agency determines returns on equity (ROE) and seeks comments on whether it should apply any revamped ROE policies to interstate natural gas and oil pipelines. This NOI creates an additional avenue for gas industry participants seeking changes in how the FERC evaluates and approves the construction of new gas pipeline facilities.…
Controversies over natural gas pipeline siting and construction have turned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) into a newsmaker in recent years. As public awareness concerning pipeline projects grows, more members of the public are turning to the FERC’s website (ferc.gov), to understand how FERC evaluates pipeline certificate applications and to get updates on the status of individual applications. Concerned that FERC is not yet ready for this challenge, a May 2018 Department of Energy
On April 19, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) soliciting public comments on whether to revise its long-standing policy governing the processing and approval of new natural gas pipeline facilities under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act. Although this opens the floodgates to public comment on very contentious issues, it is unlikely to result in significant changes in the process. FERC has issued less than two dozen NOIs in the past decade. Typically,…
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a long-standing reputation for non-partisan decision-making. This was reinforced by its January 2018 rejection of the Department of Energy’s demand that electric pricing rules be changed to incentivize coal-fired and nuclear electric generation.  More recent FERC actions, however, suggest that this independent regulatory agency is trending towards greater partisanship. Just in the last month, FERC has issued two orders that make it significantly harder for environmental/ landowner groups…
At his first Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) meeting this past December, Chairman Kevin McIntyre announced the agency will be soliciting comments on whether to revise its 1999 Certificate Policy Statement (CPS), which FERC uses to evaluate applications to build new pipelines or expand existing ones. Under the CPS, the pipeline must show that the project could proceed without any financial subsidies from its existing customers, causing most pipeline expansions to be priced on…
In light of reduced corporate tax rates as the result of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Tax Act), a broad coalition of gas industry trade associations and gas producers recently filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging the agency to lower gas pipeline and storage company rates to reflect tax rate reductions. The January 31, 2018 petition also offers a blueprint for how FERC could quickly accomplish this task.…
One of the major recent changes made to the federal tax code as the result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the reduction in corporate income tax from 35 percent to 21 percent. As soon as the corporate tax cuts took effect at the beginning of 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) started to received requests that it use its authority under Section 5 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) to lower…
Pipeline expansion capacity is priced at the incremental cost of service of the new facilities to be constructed. This causes the incremental recourse rate to generally be higher than the otherwise applicable system recourse rate. That is no longer necessarily the case. In an order issued to Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company January 18, 2018, FERC recomputed a project’s proposed incremental recourse rate using the new 21 percent corporate tax rate.  This lowered the incremental…
FERC staff has asked gas pipelines with pending expansion applications how 2018 tax law changes will impact their proposed project’s cost of service and the project’s proposed incremental rates.  FERC has imposed a quick, three business day turnaround on responses. In identical data requests sent to a number of pipelines within the last week, FERC notes that effective January 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 reduced the federal corporate income tax rate…