By Christen Smith
Ott said the PJM Board of Managers settled on that course after determining the RTO’s minimum offer price rule (MOPR) — rejected last year by FERC — impacts only a small number of resources, meaning an updated commission ruling on the matter wouldn’t change prices too much within the current environment.
“We think this is the best approach,” he told the Market Implementation Committee on Wednesday. “There is no way to get absolute certainty. This was not an easy decision.”
PJM filed a request with FERC later that day seeking validation that the commission would not force the RTO to rerun the 2022/23 Base Residual Auction under new rules in the future — an outcome that stakeholders want to avoid at all costs.
“We’re trying our best to provide a path forward that provides as much clarity as we can,” Ott said.
The decision comes three weeks after PJM staff presented the Markets and Reliability Committee with four options for the August BRA, including: doing nothing and running the auction under current rules; filing a delay waiver; filing a request to confirm existing rules for the interim; or proposing an interim rate. (See PJM Mulls Options for August Capacity Auction.) Each option came with considerable drawbacks, PJM’s Stu Bresler said at the time.
PJM delayed the BRA once already after a June 2018 FERC ruling determined its MOPR was unjust and unreasonable because it didn’t address price suppression arising from state subsidies for renewable and nuclear power. The RTO proposed a new rate in October and had hoped for a ruling from the commission by March 15 to no avail.
Ott said Wednesday many stakeholders expressed support for moving ahead as planned. The Electric Power Supply Association said in a press release that the RTO made the right choice and will boost much-needed investor confidence. The group also called on FERC to protect the capacity market from the distortions of nuclear subsidies and those who benefit from them.
“EPSA opposes delaying the 2019 auction to 2020,” the group wrote. “This is merely an attempt by some to buy time to continue seeking costly subsidies. Such out-of-market payments erode PJM’s markets at the expense of consumers and competition.”
Jason Barker of Exelon called the chosen path “short-sighted.” Exelon joined a coalition of utility companies in a letter to the board requesting a delay until April 2020, citing seven outstanding FERC dockets. Consumer advocacy groups from six states likewise sent their own letter pushing for a delay. (See Stakeholders Tell PJM Board to Delay Capacity Auction.)
“We think the path that PJM is taking will make FERC address the underlying subject of MOPR, which they’ve been reluctant to do so far,” he said. “Why is the balance of interest better served by this path than just the delay?”
PJM spokesman Jeff Shields said the RTO remains obligated to run the BRA and, given the uncertainty, staff decided it was best to move forward under existing rules.
“Certainty is needed and we simply don’t know when FERC is going to act,” Shields said. “We don’t even know whether FERC will respond to this request for clarification or would have responded to an additional request for delay.”