BPA seeks rehearing of FERC order regarding environmental redispatch

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on Jan. 6 filed with FERC a request for rehearing and clarification of the commission’s Dec. 7, 2011, order regarding BPA’s curtailment of wind generation.

In that order, the commission determined that BPA’s environmental redispatch policy did not provide comparable transmission service and ordered Bonneville to file tariff revisions that will provide for transmission service to power generators that “are not unduly discriminatory or preferential.”

In its request for rehearing, BPA said the commission’s order did not give Bonneville needed guidance in several areas. “[T]hus, Bonneville is uncertain as to the meaning and scope of the Order,” BPA said, requesting clarification, “or, if needed, rehearing of parts of the order.”

In its request, BPA listed six issues for which it seeks clarification or rehearing.

Of overriding importance, BPA is challenging the commission’s conclusion that it had jurisdiction to review its environmental redispatch policy. BPA asserted that is “an error of law because jurisdiction over this final action” rests with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it said.

BPA also asked FERC to clarify that it is not authorized by Section 211A of the Federal Power Act (FPA) to order BPA to provide transmission service at rates that are not unduly discriminatory. BPA asserted that FERC has erred in its belief that is has such authority, and requested a rehearing.

In a related point, BPA asked FERC to clarify whether FERC’s section 211A authority “must be harmonized with or override Bonneville’s enabling and applicable environmental statutes.” If the commission determined that its authority overrides the statutes, then BPA again asserts FERC’s error, asking for a rehearing.

BPA also requested rehearing of the commission’s conclusion that “federal hydroelectric resources are similarly situated to non-Federal renewable resources in this situation.” BPA asked FERC to “clarify that Federal hydroelectric resources are not similarly situated to non-Federal renewable resources for purposes of curtailments to produce power to reduce total dissolved gas and its impacts on listed fish in the Columbia River system.”

In addition, BPA asked for clarification on whether the Dec. 7 order directed BPA to file an entire tariff or just tariff revisions, and to clarify that BPA’s environmental redispatch policy does not violate e-tagging standards.

In its conclusion, BPA said it appreciated the commission’s “recognition of the myriad responsibilities facing BPA and its attempt to reconcile those responsibilities with the requirements of its [large generator interconnection agreements].”

“It appears that the Commission did not prospectively rule out Bonneville’s continuing to implement environmental redispatch coupled with either the payment of some reasonable amount of negative prices or another approach,” BPA stated in the filing.

In a news release on the topic, BPA Administrator Steve Wright said, “We support the continuation and acceleration of ongoing informal settlement discussions with affected parties.” He noted, “Developing a regional solution is especially important before the spring snowmelt season and expiration of the interim policy on Environmental Redispatch on March 30, 2012.”

“Bonneville will continue its efforts to comply with its obligations as it develops and considers a single solution that satisfies them all,” the filing concluded.