WECC regions forming to comply with Order 1000

Of the nine subregional planning groups recognized by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), four are forming regions in order to comply with the regional and interregional requirements of FERC Order 1000.

Brad Nickell, director of transmission planning for WECC, elaborated on the activities that WECC and the subregional planning groups are engaged in, during a webinar held jointly by TransmissionHub and the WIRES Group on July 24.

Columbia Grid, Northern Tier Transmission Group, the California ISO and WestConnect all are forming regions, Nickell said. Other subregional planning groups include BC Hydro and the Alberta Electric System Operator in Canada. WestConnect comprises three subregional planning groups in the United States: Sierra, the Southwest Area Transmission and the Colorado Coordinated Planning Group.

All of the subregions coordinate planning at the interconnection level through a number of WECC processes, Nickell said.


Interregional compliance with Order 1000

WECC looks at the interregional provisions in Order 1000 in four parts, Nickell said: information sharing, the joint evaluation of projects, project selection for cost allocation and the cost allocation process itself.

“When I compare the future with what we’ve been doing in the past, I really think this is a transition from an ad hoc voluntary planning process, both at the regional and interconnection-wide level, to a set of more formal coordination processes on transmission planning,” he said.

Regional and interregional provisions are very similar, he noted, with the exception that regional requirements stipulate that a plan actually be produced.

As far as information-sharing goes, Nickell said it is one of the most explicit parts of the order. WECC’s role, he said, is to help manage data and models for Western Interconnection activity, both for reliability models as well as production and capital cost models.

“How we see this from a needs perspective is, we see a need for verifiable data and models that can be used across the different regions for the purposes of joint evaluation,” Nickell said. “We see WECC’s role specifically as helping manage data and models for the Western Interconnection activity, both for reliability models as well as production models and capital cost models.”

Another interregional part of the order relates to the selection of projects for cost allocation.

Interregional facilities must also be included in regional plans to be eligible, according to the order.

As far as cost allocation, WECC does not play much of a role, Nickell said. The order requires that transmission providers have a method to allocate costs for interregional transmission facilities.

“This part of the order goes back to FERC Order 890 and the six allocation principles,” Nickell said. “Importantly on this, participant funding cannot be the default cost allocation procedure; there must be some other default procedure for allocating costs amongst transmission providers.”

Nickell said WECC perceives itself as a service provider that will assist the Western Interconnection to meet the provisions of Order 1000.  

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.