MISO asks FERC to reject Pioneer complaint, pins responsibility on AEP, Duke

The Midwest ISO (MISO) is asking that FERC reject Pioneer Transmission‘s request to waive the eligibility requirements for transmission ownership in the region.

MISO on Feb. 28 filed as an intervener in Pioneer’s complaint (FERC docket EL12-24) against Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), a subsidiary of NiSource (NYSE:NI).

In its complaint against NIPSCO, Pioneer argued that MISO’s transmission owners agreement (TOA) contains language that discriminates against non-transmission owners as well as reinforces a right of first refusal (ROFR), an issue that FERC Order 1000 seeks to rectify.

“Contrary to Pioneer’s arguments, MISO correctly interpreted the eligibility requirements for transmission owners, finding that Pioneer presently does not meet these requirements,” MISO said, adding that no grounds exist for FERC to waive these requirements or declare them unjust or unreasonable, as Pioneer has requested. 

According to MISO’s eligibility requirements, Pioneer cannot be deemed a transmission owner because it does not own, operate or control any physical transmission facilities. “Paper” facilities, such as jurisdictional contracts, certain tariff sheets and accounts, as well as FERC-granted transmission incentive rates, do not qualify, MISO said.

MISO further argued that Pioneer’s parent companies, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) and American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), chose a project structure that disqualified Pioneer for owner status.

“A new applicant that has such [physical] facilities (e.g., one of Pioneer’s corporate parents, AEP or Duke, or their operating company affiliates) presumably would be able to obtain the benefits of owner status prior to commencing construction,” MISO said. “In that sense, there is no similarity with the ROFR whatsoever, as no priority rights are given to the incumbents. It is simply that Pioneer’s sponsors, AEP and Duke, chose a project structure that made Pioneer temporarily ineligible for owner status.”

MISO asked that FERC confirm MISO’s interpretation of the TOA, reject Pioneer’s request that FERC recommend that the MISO Board of Directors waive these requirements, find that Pioneer has not shown the eligibility requirements to be unjust and unreasonable, and dismiss MISO as a respondent in the complaint.

MISO also affirmed NIPSCO’s claim to the project at issue, the Reynolds to Greentown transmission line, and made a case against Pioneer’s argument that a discrepancy in the naming of one of the substations has any bearing on the proceeding.

The Reynolds substation in documents drafted in MISO’s transmission expansion process, MTEP 11, was sometimes referred to as the New Reynolds substation. Pioneer speculated that the discrepancy “may have been an attempt to bolster NIPSCO’s argument that it will be the owner of ‘connected’ transmission facilities and therefore entitled to ROFR rights.”

“In MISO’s view, the naming of the connection point is irrelevant to the ownership of the facilities,” MISO said, citing Appendix B of the TOA, which delineates ownership of a transmission facility.

The project originally was proposed as a 240-mile, 765-kV interregional transmission line, but was divided into separate projects during the MTEP planning stage, so it could be deemed a multi-value project, eligible for cost allocation. 

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.