ITC Midwest seeks 50-50 ownership with ATC on multi-value project

ITC Holdings (NYSE:ITC) subsidiary ITC Midwest on Oct. 24 filed a complaint with FERC against American Transmission Company (ATC) seeking resolution in a dispute that echoes a similar case brought by Xcel Energy over construction and ownership of a Midwest ISO (MISO) multi-value project (MVP).

ITC Midwest is requesting that FERC direct ATC to enter into negotiations with ITC Midwest for 50-50 ownership and construction of the 136 mile, 345-kV Dubuque-Cardinal transmission line in compliance with MISO’s open access transmission tariff (OATT), the MISO transmission owner’s agreement (TOA), and designations for the MVP under the 2011 MISO transmission expansion plan.

“ITC Midwest seeks relief from FERC in order to ensure that the Dubuque-Cardinal line may be completed as soon as possible to bring needed reliable transmission to the integrated MISO-controlled grid, to alleviate congestion, and to facilitate the interconnection of significant amounts of renewable resources,” ITC said in its complaint. “FERC has already decided that the currently-effective MISO TOA contains a right of first refusal and that a project that runs between the facilities of two MISO transmission owners be ‘shared equally’ between them unless otherwise agreed.”

The Dubuque line would connect ITC Midwest’s Dubuque substation in Iowa to ATC’s Cardinal substation in southwestern Wisconsin.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) filed a complaint against ATC in February for a different segment of the MVP – the Badger-Coulee transmission line – seeking similar relief. FERC found in favor of Xcel Energy in that complaint but granted ATC a rehearing request in September.

ATC has not responded to the new complaint from ITC Midwest, but ATC’s VP of Strategic Planning and Project Development John Flynn told TransmissionHub Oct. 29 that the company fundamentally disagrees with FERC’s interpretation of the tariff language and will respond shortly.

“The ITC complaint was fully expected after the Xcel order was issued by FERC back in July,” Flynn said. “We reserve our rights to continue to pursue administrative remedy at FERC and then, potentially, legal remedy in the federal court system.”

MISO’s MVP includes the Dubuque-Cardinal segment, the Badger Coulee segment, and a third ATC-owned segment that runs from North Madison, Wisc., to the Cardinal substation.

“I do believe we have raised a very interesting legal argument that FERC needs to take some time to consider,” Flynn said. “But I think this is a very slippery slope.”

In the Xcel case, ATC filed a complaint on Xcel’s Hampton-La Crosse transmission line. It claimed that if FERC concluded that the tariff language entitles Xcel and ITC Midwest each to 50% of ATC’s lines, then ATC should be entitled to 50% of Hampton-La Crosse.

“Hopefully, to the extent that there are concerns about this kind of issue cascading forward, there should be some clearer rules of the road soon,” Flynn said. “Once FERC has worked through its Order 1000 process, it will help more clearly establish rights of ownership and rights of construction moving forward.”

ATC awaits action from FERC on its rehearing order.

“Our goal working with ITC Midwest and Xcel is to make sure that the project is on time and on budget and customers see no ill effect from what’s going on at FERC or in the courts,” Flynn said.