News Flash: Wind interests, industry groups file into FERC NOI on interconnection facilities

Wind developers and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), among others, have filed comments into FERC’s April 19 notice of inquiry (Docket No. AD12-14-000) regarding whether its policy on interconnection facilities should be changed.

FERC had granted an extension for comments to be filed through June 26.

In its NOI, FERC said it is seeking input on “alternative approaches” to govern third-party requests for service and priority rights.

On a case-by-case basis, FERC has treated certain interconnection facilities as transmission facilities in order to comply with its open access policies. However, the commission has allowed an owner of interconnection facilities to have priority to the capacity over its facilities for its existing use at the time of a third-party request for service, provided that the owner can demonstrate that it has met “specific plans and milestones” with respect to that line’s future usage.

“This granting of priority rights preserves the ability of the generation developer to deliver its output to the point of interconnection with the transmission system, so long as it can make the relevant showing to the commission sufficient to justify priority,” FERC said in the NOI.

FERC’s current policy “is guided by the desire to prevent undue discrimination by ensuring that third parties have open access to available transfer capability that is not being used by the owner of the interconnection facilities,” FERC said.

FERC issued the NOI in response to a March 2011 technical conference at which commenters said that the open-access policies for interconnection facilities may have “detrimental impacts on the development and financing of such lines” and asked that FERC “recognize commercial, technological, legal and other differences between transmission lines and generator lead lines when considering open-access principles,” according to a press release that accompanied the April 19 notice.

The NOI also seeks comments on two alternate approaches: continued use of an open access transmission tariff framework with modifications, including a “safe harbor” period during which a generation developer would be assumed to have priority rights to capacity on its interconnection facilities; and use of a large generator interconnection agreement (LGIA)/large generator interconnection procedures (LGIP) framework that would allow the FERC to consider issues of third-party access and priority rights under a modification of its existing interconnection rules and procedures – that is, allowing parties to mutually agree to the use of and compensation for the facilities.

“I believe today’s NOI … raises the bigger picture issue of the application of the commission’s open access policies to some of the electricity industry’s newly emerging challenges,” FERC Commissioner John Norris said April 19.

“Our open access policies were developed almost 20 years ago, when the electricity industry was facing different challenges, most notably the need for new generation market players to access the market and customers,” Norris continued. “However, we must also consider how these open access policies address, or fail to address, challenges that may have only more recently emerged. One of those challenges involves developing new renewable resources in remote locations that require significant interconnection facilities to deliver their output to the grid.”

Recurrent Energy, Invenergy Wind Development, First Wind Holdings, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), San Diego Gas & Electric, the Electric Power Supply Association, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, TGP Development, Tenaska Energy, BP Wind Energy North America, Puget Sound Energy,, the Transmission Access Policy Group, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), the American Public Power Association, the Midwest ISO, the California ISO, the Southwest Power Pool and NERC were among those that submitted comments in the docket.



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.