FERC grants rehearing in Pioneer, ATC, Primary Power complaints

FERC on Sept. 17 granted rehearing in three complaints: Xcel Energy‘s (NYSE:XEL) complaint against American Transmission Co. (Docket No. EL12-28); Pioneer Transmission‘s complaint against Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) (Docket No. EL12-24); and Primary Power‘s complaint PJM Interconnection (PJM) (Docket No. EL12-69).

FERC on July 19 had issued orders favoring incumbents in each of the cases – Xcel Energy, NIPSCO and, in the case of Primary Power versus PJM, FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) and Dominion Resources (NYSE:D). Nonincumbents ATC, Pioneer and Primary Power filed for rehearing of the orders.

In a fourth case, Central Transmission vs. PJM (Docket No. EL10-52), in which FERC also favored the incumbent, Central Transmission did not file for rehearing.

The commission acknowledged separately on July 19 that its rulings only underscored the importance of the removal of right of first refusal (ROFR) language from RTO tariffs and agreements, one of the more controversial requirements of Order 1000.

Quick summary of complaints

Primary Power on May 14 filed a complaint with FERC after PJM in April designated to incumbent transmission owners FirstEnergy and Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion) the right to build, own and finance two static VAR compensator (SVC) projects – the 600 MVAR Meadowbrook SVC project and the 250 MVAR Mt. Storm SVC project. The decision came after PJM in November 2011 said the projects should be designated to Primary Power, a merchant company and joint venture between Tangibl and Trans-Elect Development Co.

In its complaint, Primary Power argued the incumbent transmission owner designation violated PJM’s open access transmission tariff (OATT), its amended and restated operating agreement and FERC’s open access requirements, including Order 1000. 

In turn, PJM on July 3 argued that the designation falls within the four corners of its operating agreement and is supported by precedent. The RTO also argued that project execution by FirstEnergy and Dominion is more cost-effective and prudent.

Along with the three other orders for similar complaints on July 19, FERC ruled in favor of the incumbents, prompting Primary Power on Aug. 20 to file for rehearing. If FERC had not issued a response to the Aug. 20 request, rehearing would automatically have been denied, the commission noted.

“In order to afford additional time for consideration of the matters raised or to be raised, rehearing of the commission’s order is hereby granted for the limited purpose of further consideration, and timely-filed rehearing requests will not be deemed denied by operation of law,” FERC said in the Sept. 17 order. 

Xcel Energy on Feb. 14 filed a complaint with FERC alleging that ATC’s unilateral pre-permitting activities for the La Crosse-Madison transmission line, violated both the Midwest ISO’s (MISO) open access transmission tariff and the transmission owners agreement (TOA). Xcel Energy asked that FERC force ATC to the negotiating table to develop terms for shared ownership and construction of the line.

Pioneer on Feb. 8 filed a complaint against NIPSCO and MISO over the construction of the first segment of the Pioneer project, asking that FERC set aside MISO’s interpretation of its transmission owners agreement (TOA) that Pioneer is not currently eligible to become a party to the TOA.

Pioneer and NIPSCO on Aug. 20 said they reached a settlement in the complaint.

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.