WECC members progressing on FERC Order 1000 compliance

The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is making progress on FERC Order 1000 compliance issues at the subregional level, but efforts will soon be expanded to include WECC’s transmission expansion planning policy committee (TEPPC).

“Most of the activity going on [with regard to] Order 1000 resides in the subregional planning group (SPG) areas, which mostly will be the Order 1000 regions,” TEPPC’s vice chair, Rich Bayless, told the WECC board of directors June 27 at the group’s annual meeting in Portland, Ore.

“There’s still some work going on regarding where the footprints of those regions might be, but they’re in pretty good alignment so far,” Bayless said.

Some of the information from the SPG is moving up to the subregional coordination group (SCG), which does not report to TEPPC but communicates and coordinates with it, he said.

One of the major issues being dealt with by the SPG and the SCG is better alignment of planning cycles. Presently, the cycles are out of sync from a small to a large degree depending on the subregion because the cycles were set to align with their states’ integrated resource plan (IRP) processes.

Alignment of planning cycles is an ongoing issue that has been discussed at the SCG level for some time, Bayless said. However, “[i]t’s going to be important, as we move into Order 1000, for them to align,” he said.

Subregions are also working to determine how to meet the requirements of selecting proposed projects as well as considering related issues of who qualifies to bring projects into WECC’s regional transmission expansion plan.

“Project sponsors are now a bigger set than transmission providers,” Bayless said.

Other more technical questions are also being discussed. For example, Bayless said, “What happens if projects proposed by a non-[transmission provider] … for reliability brings a project in and it’s delayed?”

Cost allocation a thorny issue

The biggest issue remaining is cost and benefit allocation, Bayless said.

“Reliability, economic, and public policy issues are the ones we actually have to analyze and [for which we must] determine benefits,” he told the WECC board.

He said examples of questions that are being debated include: “What kind of benefits do you allocate and to whom? Do you allocate costs to customers or generators or just other transmission providers? Do you allocate production cost modeling type benefits, so is the TEPPC model we use now adequate or not?”

The regions will soon complete their conceptual designs of plans to address those questions, and pass them to their legal departments in preparation for the FERC compliance filing, which is due by Oct. 11.

After Order 1000’s regional compliance deadline passes, “there’s going to be a scramble to look at interregional issues where the subregional groups have to look at coordination and cooperation with their neighbors,” Bayless said.

That will then evolve into a discussion about WECC’s role as the overall western coordination entity, he said.

”We’ll have to talk first with neighboring regions,” Bayless said. “A lot of the subregions are interconnected into their neighbors fairly well; there are a lot of similarities as far as jurisdictional issues and geographic issues and demographics.”

Data sharing and coordination vital

The challenges of interregional coordination will include data coordination and sharing.

“If we can get to the point where we’re having better ways to coordinate data of the type that’s needed for this type of planning, quality of data, figuring out compliance issues about who has to do what from a compliance perspective, the better,” Bayless said.

Not all regions intend to perform independent analyses, he added, noting that at least one region plans to rely on WECC’s regional transmission expansion planning process for its economic planning. In addition, most of the regions will be relying on the TEPPC database to be used in their respective economic planning processes.

“We’ll have to start coordinating better with WECC and figuring out WECC’s role,” Bayless said.

He said the TEPPC will provide a progress update and an update on compliance filings at the board’s next meeting, which is set for Sept. 5 in Salt Lake City.