|NRG ENERGY, INC. filed this Form 10-K on 02/29/2016|
U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Consider the Constitutionality of Maryland's Generator Contracting Programs — On October 19, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of certain state-directed procurements of new electric generating facilities. The case involves the authority of the Maryland Public Service Commission to direct load-serving utilities in the state to enter into long-term power purchase contracts with a generation developer to encourage the construction of new generation capacity in Maryland. The constitutionality of the long-term contracts was challenged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, which, in an October 24, 2013, decision, found that the contracts violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution because they were both conflict preempted and field preempted by the FPA and the authority that the FPA granted to FERC. On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. A case arising out of New Jersey and raising similar issues was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which also determined that the state-mandated contracts were preempted. After the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Maryland case, the Company filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Court to uphold the right of states to incentivize new generation by directing utilities in the state to enter into long-term contracts — but noted that FERC has both the authority and the statutory obligation to protect wholesale markets by requiring that bids in the wholesale markets reflect costs and by ensuring that uneconomic entry does not distort auction outcomes. The Supreme Court heard oral argument on February 24, 2016. The outcome of this litigation could have broad impacts on whether and how states require utilities to contract with new generation resources, as well as how such contracted resources interact with the FERC-jurisdictional wholesale markets.
U.S. Supreme Court Allows FERC to Retain Jurisdiction Over Demand Response — On January 25, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-2 decision affirming FERC’s ability to exercise jurisdiction over demand response resources seeking to voluntarily participate in the wholesale markets. Additionally, the Supreme Court upheld FERC’s preferred scheme for pricing demand response in the energy market. This case arose out of a May 23, 2014, decision by the D.C. Circuit which vacated FERC’s rules (known as Order No. 745) that set the compensation level for demand response resources participating in the FERC-jurisdictional energy markets. The Court of Appeals had held that the FPA does not authorize FERC to exercise jurisdiction over demand response and that instead demand response is part of the retail market over which the states have jurisdiction. With the Supreme Court’s decision, FERC will resume exercising jurisdiction over demand response, which the Company views as a positive for both its wholesale and distributed businesses.
Montgomery County Station Power Tax — On December 20, 2013, the Company received a letter from Montgomery County, Maryland requesting payment of an energy tax for the consumption of station power at the Dickerson Facility over the previous three years. Montgomery County seeks payment in the amount of $22 million, which includes tax, interest and penalties. The Company disputed the applicability of the tax. On December 11, 2015, the Maryland Tax Court reversed Montgomery County's assessment. Montgomery County has filed an appeal.
MISO SECA — Green Mountain Energy previously provided competitive retail energy supply in the MISO region during the period of January 1, 2002, to December 31, 2005. By order dated November 18, 2004, FERC eliminated certain regional through-and-out transmission rates charged by transmission owners in MISO and PJM. In order to temporarily compensate the transmission owners for lost revenues, FERC ordered MISO, PJM and their respective transmission owners to eliminate seams charges and in the meantime, as a temporary measure, allowed them to recover transition charges known as SECA charges. The tariff amendments filed by MISO and the MISO transmission owners allocated certain SECA charges to various zones and sub-zones within MISO, including a sub-zone called the Green Mountain Energy Company Sub-zone. During several years of extensive litigation before FERC, several transmission owners sought to recover SECA charges from Green Mountain Energy. Green Mountain Energy denied responsibility for any SECA charges and did not pay any asserted SECA charges.
On May 21, 2010, FERC issued two orders, including its Order on Initial Decision, in which FERC determined that approximately $22 million plus interest of SECA charges were owed not by Green Mountain Energy but rather by BP Energy — one of Green Mountain Energy's suppliers during the period at issue. On August 19, 2010, the transmission owners and MISO made compliance filings in accordance with FERC's Orders allocating SECA charges to a BP Energy Sub-zone, and making no allocation to a Green Mountain Energy Sub-zone. On September 16, 2015, FERC issued an order conditionally accepting those compliance filings, and setting for hearing and settlement proceedings issues related to service to certain Michigan customers during 2002 and 2003.