Footprint rejects FERC staff allegations of misleading ISO-NE on fuel supply
Washington — Footprint Power is fighting back against allegations that it submitted false and misleading supply offers to ISO-New England in June and July 2013, arguing the grid operator always knew the limitations of its Salem, Massachusetts, power plant.
“The commission should reject enforcement’s proposal to proceed to court to impose excessive sanctions for alleged violations that did not occur, that lack any motive, that caused no harm, and that are so distant in time that they are now out of reach under the statute of limitations,” Footprint said in a filing last week.
The Footprint proceeding (IN18-7) features the first show-cause order in an enforcement case issued by the commission since Chairman Kevin McIntyre took the gavel in December. The fuel-security issue at play in this case may be closely watched by market players, regulators, policy makers and others against the backdrop of Trump administration efforts to bolster at-risk nuclear and coal-fired power generation in the name of grid resilience.
In June, FERC ordered Footprint to prove why it should not disgorge $2 million in capacity payments and pay $4.2 million in civil penalties for allegedly submitting false and misleading supply offers to ISO-NE when it lacked the fuel to operate Salem Harbor Unit 4, a 437 MW oil-fired unit.
By June 26, Salem Harbor had less than a day’s worth of fuel and Footprint didn’t receive additional fuel until the end of July, FERC staff alleged. In the midst of mid-July heat wave, the plant could only run for a few hours before asking the ISO to reduce its capacity, FERC staff alleged.
Footprint is now bluntly rejecting staff’s claims. “Enforcement’s allegations are false and misleading; Footprint’s offers were not,” the company said in its response to the show-cause order.
First, enforcement overstated ISO-NE’s operational expectations, Footprint said, arguing ISO-NE knew it was operationally and legally impossible for the plant to run for 24 hours at maximum output because of start-up and air emissions limitations. “Those restrictions were fully appreciated by ISO-NE and, on most of the days at issue, worked as binding constraints before fuel levels ever came into play,” Footprint said.