MISO: FERC can do better than Consumers Energy’s proposal for bulk electric system definition

The Midwest ISO (MISO) on Sept. 21 filed a limited reply to the comments submitted by Consumers Energy in response to the FERC notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), which was issued on June 22.

On Sept. 4, Consumers Energy submitted its comments in response to NOPR in which FERC proposes to approve NERC’s revised definition of the term “bulk electric system” (BES).

Consumers Energy argued for a bright line exemption from the BES definition for facilities that have been previously classified as local distribution facilities using the commission’s seven factor test. The company argued that this approach, among its other virtues, “would actually streamline NERC’s analysis by avoiding redundant determination of whether the BES includes facilities, (particularly when FERC and Congress have already made such a determination).”

MISO’s reply was limited to Consumers Energy’s suggestion that facilities previously found to be local distribution facilities should be excluded from the BES definition. MISO said there was a need for coordination and continuity in the BES. Though perfect continuity may be difficult, MISO said FERC can do better than Consumers Energy’ proposal.

“Specifically, MISO does not believe that the criteria used by the commission to indicate which facilities a transmission owner must make available for open access service (the seven factor test) are the same criteria that identify which transmission facilities may affect the reliability of the interconnection (the BES facilities). While it may be true that in most cases, these local distribution facilities will not be part of the BES, or have an impact on the BES, the case cited by Consumers Energy illustrates the dangers of creating an automatic exemption for facilities identified as local distribution under the seven factor test,” according to MISO.

Consumers Energy does not provide sufficient detail for the commission to understand exactly how that local distribution determination has been applied to facilities still owned and operated by the company and how those facilities affect other facilities that are clearly BES facilities, MISO said.

Specifically, MISO is aware of certain facilities in the Consumers Energy’ distribution system that raise concerns.

MISO requested that the commission consider its limited reply to Consumers Energy’s comments and reject the company’s proposal to automatically exclude from the BES definition those facilities that have been determined to be local distribution facilities solely by applying the commission’s seven factor test.

Consumers Energy is a subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS).