Archive: May 2019

CFTC Proposes Amendments to Swap Data Reporting Requirements
The Energizer – Volume 44
FERC Grants Waivers to Exempt Solar Aggregator from Certain QF Requirements

CFTC Proposes Amendments to Swap Data Reporting Requirements

By: Lawrence B. Patent

Sellers under virtual power purchase agreements often agree to assume the duty to report the swap transactions contemplated by those agreements. Parties acting as reporting parties for Dodd-Frank purposes will be interested in the Roadmap to Achieve High Quality Swap Data (“Roadmap”) rulemakings currently under way at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”).

As part of the Roadmap proceedings, the CFTC recently published proposed amendments to its regulations governing swap data reporting requirements and swap data repositories (“SDR”). 84 Fed. Reg. 21044 (May 13, 2019). Among other changes, the proposals would require an SDR to distribute to each reporting counterparty on a regular basis an “open swaps report” detailing the swap data maintained by the SDR for all open swaps, organized by the unique identifier created for each swap. SDRs would be required to distribute the open swaps reports to non-swap dealer (“non-SD”) reporting counterparties, which would encompass most energy firms acting as a reporting counterparty, on a monthly basis, no later than the end of the day Eastern Time on the day of the month that the SDR chooses to regularly distribute the reports. The reporting counterparty would then be required to compare its books and records against the report to determine if the swap data that the SDR maintains is complete and accurate. A non-SD reporting counterparty would be required to submit either a verification of data accuracy or a notice of discrepancy within 96 hours of the SDR providing the open swaps report. This would be a change from the current regulatory framework that is based on the concept of negative affirmation, whereby reported swap data is presumed accurate and confirmed if a counterparty does not inform the SDR of errors or omissions or otherwise make modifications to a trade record within a specified time period under SDR rules.

If a notice of discrepancy were filed, the error or omission must be corrected within three business days of that notice filing. The current regulations require that an error or omission be corrected “as soon as technologically practicable” following discovery, but the proposals would reinforce that requirement with the three-business-day time frame. If that three-business-day time frame cannot be met, the reporting party would be required immediately to inform the Director of the CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight, or the Director’s designee, in writing, of such errors or omissions and provide an initial assessment of the scope of the errors or omissions and an initial remediation plan for their correction.

The requirements for correcting errors or omissions would apply to both swap data required by Part 45 of the CFTC’s regulations (creation and continuation data) and to swap transaction and pricing data required by Part 43 of the CFTC’s regulations. However, the open swaps report provision would only apply to the former, although the preamble of the notice announcing the proposed amendments specifically requests comment on whether that report should also cover swap transaction and pricing data.

The CFTC also states in the preamble that it expects that a reporting counterparty that repeatedly discovers errors or omissions, especially if they follow a pattern, would evaluate its reporting systems to discover and correct any issues. This would include working with the relevant SDR to address any reporting issues. The CFTC further notes that it may consider a reporting counterparty that fails to perform such an evaluation and improvement in light of repeated errors not to be in compliance with the regulations.

The proposed amendments, which are available here, are part of the CFTC’s Roadmap, and constitute the first of three anticipated Roadmap rulemakings. The comment period on these proposed amendments closes July 29, 2019. When the CFTC proposes the next two rulemakings, it anticipates re-opening the comment period for this first proposal to provide market participants with an opportunity to comment collectively on the three rulemakings together. The CFTC also anticipates that key provisions of each rulemaking would have the same compliance date, regardless of when each rulemaking is adopted in final form. The CFTC intends to provide a sufficient implementation period for these various rulemakings to give SDRs and market participants enough time to implement and test the changes that would be required.

The Energizer – Volume 44

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

By: Buck B. EndemannBenjamin L. TejblumDaniel S. CohenToks A. ArowojoluOlivia B. MoraAbraham F. Johns

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward.

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By Mary Burke Baker

SFC ranking member Wyden and 25 other Democrats (including minority leader Schumer) introduced tech-neutral energy legislation this week.  The bill includes energy storage provisions.  Following is a summary followed by summaries pertaining to energy storage. The legislation would consolidate 44 energy incentives into three tech-neutral provisions to promote energy independence and a low-carbon economy.  All of the original co-sponsors are Democrats.  The roll out of the legislation was accompanied by supporting statements from about a dozen supporting organizations.

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FERC Grants Waivers to Exempt Solar Aggregator from Certain QF Requirements

By William M. Keyser and Toks A. Arowojolu

On April 18, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order granting a petition for declaratory order filed by Sunrun, Inc. (“Sunrun”) that exempted Sunrun, the nation’s largest residential solar company, from certain qualifying facility (“QF”) filing requirements under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (“PUHCA”). The requested waiver would allow Sunrun to avoid significant administrative and regulatory burdens by avoiding potentially hundreds of QF filings as it increases the number of photovoltaic (“PV”) systems it owns on behalf of its customers.

QFs have the right to sell energy or capacity to a utility at an avoided cost rate and receive relief from certain regulatory burdens. To qualify as a QF, eligible facilities (including solar facilities) with power production capacity of greater than 1 MW (1000 kW) must certify their status with the Commission by either submitting a Form 556 self-certification or filing an application. Facilities with net power production of 1 MW or less are exempt from this filing requirement. When determining the size of a QF, FERC applies a “one-mile rule.” Under the “one-mile” rule, QFs located within a mile of another facility that use the same energy source and have the same owner are considered one QF for purposes of determining whether the QF surpasses the 80MW requirement for QF eligibility. FERC also applies the one-mile rule to determine whether a QF is 1 MW or less and therefore exempt from the QF certification filing requirement.

The one-mile rule carries potential consequences for developers of small and distributed rooftop solar systems like Sunrun, particularly when they retain ownership over the individual systems. According to the petition, Sunrun’s customers can choose to have Sunrun finance the PV system with Sunrun initially retaining ownership and continuing to monitor, maintain, and insure the system. Under Sunrun’s system, the homeowner is granted an option to buy the PV system later.

Sunrun filed its petition in September 2018 requesting waivers of two QF certification requirements to support its business model of selling, owning, and maintaining residential solar PV systems. First, Sunrun requested a waiver of the QF certification filing requirement for separately interconnected, individual residential rooftop solar PV systems with a maximum net power production of 20 kw or less that Sunrun provides financing for but which the homeowner has an option to purchase. Because Sunrun could conceivably finance or own many such 20 kW systems within one-mile radius, it would be possible for all such 20 kW systems to aggregate to over 1 MW and trigger QF certification filing requirement. Second, Sunrun also requested that, in a self-certification submitted for a cluster of rooftop PV systems that exceed 20 kW, FERC waive the requirement to include information for the facilities covered by the first waiver request (i.e., 20 kW or less).

Sunrun explained to FERC that its concerns were two fold: (1) while 99.5% of the residential PV systems that Sunrun owns have a nameplate capacity below 20kW, PV systems within close proximity to one another can collectively be deemed to be one QF under the one-mile rule, and (2) without the waivers, Sunrun would have to “monitor the geographic concentration of its PV systems” and file and continuously update a highly burdensome number of filings. With Sunrun’s 202,000 PV systems spread across 22 states, numerous applications would be expected.

FERC granted the requested waivers, finding that Sunrun’s request aligned with the purpose of the 1MW exemption which is “to ease the administrative burden for both the Commission and small scale QFs.” FERC also directed Sunrun to maintain sufficient records of the residential PV portfolio that it owns through “third-party financing arrangements” to ensure that its aggregated solar resources are in compliance with other federal regulations. FERC’s ruling could provide an opportunity for Sunrun and other rooftop solar aggregators to sell solar power into the wholesale markets. However, despite the easing of the administrative and regulatory burden at FERC, solar aggregators are still subject to a host of interconnection and state regulatory requirements that would also need to be addressed. We will continue to monitor the developments of this proceeding and its impacts on the solar PV and wholesale markets.

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