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12/21/2023

FERC Rules in Favor of Avangrid in California Energy Crisis Litigation

FERC Rules in Favor of Avangrid in California Energy Crisis Litigation

ORANGE, Conn. — December 21, 2023 — Today Avangrid, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a decision in favor of Avangrid Renewables, LLC (Renewables), an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Avangrid, in the litigation related to the California energy crisis of 2000-2001.

The case was originally brought in 2002 by two California agencies with respect to a long-term power purchase agreement entered into by Iberdrola Renewables, LLC (now, Renewables), as seller, and the California Department of Water Resources, or CDWR, as purchaser, alleging that the terms and conditions of the power purchase agreement were unjust and unreasonable. The California agencies requested that FERC either abrogate the Renewables contract as unjust and unreasonable or reform the contracts to provide for just and reasonable rates, reduce their duration, and strike certain nonprice terms and conditions from the contracts. The California Agencies further alleged that Renewables exercised market power that forced CDWR to pay unjust and unreasonable prices and agree to onerous, unjust and unreasonable nonprice terms.

Following FERC action, appeals to the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court and remand, FERC ordered a trial-type, evidentiary hearing to supplement the existing record.  Specifically, FERC reopened the record to allow parties to present evidence on, among other things: (1) whether Renewables was a proper party to the proceedings; and (2) whether the Mobile-Sierra presumption, holding that rates set through an arm’s-length bilateral contract between sophisticated parties are presumed to be just and reasonable, was avoided or overcome with respect to Renewables’ contract. On April 12, 2016, the Presiding Administrative Law Judge (Presiding Judge) issued an initial decision finding that: (1) Renewables is properly a party to these proceedings; and (2) the Renewables contract is not protected by the Mobile-Sierra presumption of justness and reasonableness. In so finding, the Presiding Judge determined that Renewables was liable for $371 million, including interest to May 2015.

On December 20, 2023, FERC issued an Order on Initial Decision that reversed in part, and affirmed in part, the Presiding Judge’s Initial Decision.  Specifically, FERC found that, while Renewables is a proper party to the proceedings, the Mobile-Sierra presumption attaches to its contract, and the Mobile-Sierra presumption is not overcome or avoided with regard to it.  Consequently, FERC found that the contract is just and reasonable, and refunds for Renewables’ contract are not warranted.  

“We’re very pleased that FERC agreed with us that we entered into the bilateral power purchase contracts appropriately and complied with all applicable legal standards and requirements,” said Pedro Azagra, Avangrid CEO. “We’ve consistently argued that the power purchase contracts were negotiated between sophisticated parties and did not impose an excessive burden on customers.”

“This announcement is the culmination of a 20-year dispute, and it is satisfying that FERC ruled in our favor that these contracts that supplied power when California was in crisis were just and reasonable,” said R. Scott Mahoney, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. “I’m very grateful to our team that has worked long and hard for this result.”

“FERC’s decision highlights our commitment to providing fairly-priced, reliable energy, particularly when our partners have needed it most.” said Puneet Verma, Vice President, Government Affairs. “As similar issues are considered across the country, I expect this ruling provides increased certainty and sets the standard for the energy sector.” 

Avangrid cannot predict whether the other parties to the action will seek a rehearing or appeal.
 

About Avangrid

About Avangrid: Avangrid, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) aspires to be the leading sustainable energy company in the United States. Headquartered in Orange, CT with approximately $44 billion in assets and operations in 24 U.S. states, Avangrid has two primary lines of business: networks and renewables. Through its networks business, Avangrid owns and operates eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving more than 3.3 million customers in New York and New England. Through its renewables business, Avangrid owns and operates a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities across the United States. Avangrid employs approximately 8,000 people and has been recognized by JUST Capital in 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 as one of the JUST 100 companies – a ranking of America’s best corporate citizens. In 2024, Avangrid ranked first among utilities and 12 overall. The company supports the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and was named among the World’s Most Ethical Companies in 2024 for the sixth consecutive year by the Ethisphere Institute. Avangrid is a member of the group of companies controlled by Iberdrola, S.A. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.

 

About Iberdrola: Iberdrola is one of the world's biggest energy companies and a leader in renewables, spearheading the energy transition to a low carbon economy. The group supplies energy to almost 100 million people in dozens of countries. With a focus on renewable energy, smart networks and smart solutions for customers, Iberdrola’s main markets include Europe (Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Greece), the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Australia. The company is also present in growth markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, Sweden and Poland, among others.

With a workforce of nearly 40,000 and assets in excess of €141.7 billion, across the world, Iberdrola helps to support 400,000 jobs across its supply chain, with annual procurement of €12.2 billion. A benchmark in the fight against climate change, Iberdrola has invested more than €130 billion over the past two decades to help build a sustainable energy model, based on sound environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles.

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