FERC’s refusal to rehear Order 1000 “half a loaf” – WIRES

The industry group WIRES is calling FERC’s May 17 decision to deny requests that it rehear Order 1000 “half a loaf.”

In a statement issued by WIRES’ counsel and former FERC chair Jim Hoecker, the group said that, “because FERC found some current planning and cost allocation regimes to be unjust and unreasonable, we believe the Federal Power Act commands FERC, not stakeholder processes [as directed by Order 1000], to fix them.”

The group also said FERC’s order “leaves the compliance process guided only by the general principles of Order 890. While acknowledging the benefits of stakeholder processes and regional flexibility, WIRES argued for more specificity with respect to what procedures or substantive outcomes the commission will look for in compliance filings.

“If anything, Order 1000 is overdue and a bit modest in terms of the guidance it provides to these regional stakeholder processes,” Hoecker told TransmissionHub on May 18. “People are looking to FERC for leadership here. They could have been vastly more specific and offered a great deal more guidance about what they’re looking for in the compliance filings.”

“In those respects,” the group said FERC’s order is “half a loaf.”

The group did agree with the commission’s assessment that unresolved cost allocation issues and uncoordinated planning activities are “barriers to rational expansion and upgrade of the grid.”

However, the statement added Order 1000 found that existing transmission planning and cost allocation requirements are inadequate and that, if not improved by transmission providers, developers, regulators, and stakeholders, it will create barriers that further thwart the development of more efficient transmission facilities, access to clean energy resources mandated by state and federal law, and competitive wholesale power markets, the group said in its statement.

FERC’s decision denied rehearing of the July 2011 final rule establishing minimum criteria that a transmission planning process must satisfy, including general principles for cost allocation methods.

Those transmission planning requirements involve the development of regional plans, consideration of transmission needs driven by public policy requirements established by state or federal laws or regulations, and coordination between pairs of neighboring transmission planning regions.

Each public utility transmission provider must submit its Order 1000 compliance filing by Oct. 11. Compliance filings for interregional transmission coordination and interregional cost allocation are due in April 2013.

WIRES, the Working group for Investment in Reliable Economic electric Systems, is a non-profit organization comprising electric transmission owners, investors, and customers in the North American energy market.