FERC disclaims jurisdiction over four Texas CREZ transmission projects

FERC on Jan. 17 granted a request by Energy Transmission Texas (ETT) that it disclaim jurisdiction over four competitive renewable energy zone (CREZ) transmission lines the company is building within the area controlled by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and which are slated to be energized before the end of the year (Docket No. EL13-18-000).

The declaratory order grants a petition ETT filed on Nov. 6, 2012, requesting that FERC disclaim jurisdiction over four transmission lines and facilities in ERCOT region that ETT will own and operate, as well as transmission service and sales of electricity over those transmission and interconnection facilities.

The four projects are the Tesla to Riley project, Riley to Edith Clarke to Cottonwood, Clear Crossing to Dermott, and Tesla to Edith Clarke to Clear Crossing to West Shackelford. All four are 345-kV projects with in-service dates ranging from March to September 2013.

ETT said none of these CREZ projects will interconnect with transmission facilities of any non-ERCOT regions, or be used to provide transmission service in interstate commerce.

ETT also requested that FERC declare that the electric utilities in ERCOT that are not currently subject to the commission’s jurisdiction as “public utilities” under the Federal Power Act (FPA) will not become public utilities as a result of an interconnection with ETT’s transmission facilities.

The issue traces back to 2008, when the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) designated five CREZ zones in Texas. As part of the order, the PUCT expressly allowed generators in the Texas Panhandle to interconnect with regions outside ERCOT, such as the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), as long as they did not simultaneously interconnect with ERCOT.

The PUCT also required that either the generators themselves or the developers of the transmission lines that would connect them to the ERCOT grid obtain a disclaimer of jurisdiction from FERC. The PUCT required that waiver be obtained “as a condition precedent to approving a certificate of convenience and necessity to the transmission service provider for construction of the CREZ lines.”

In its ruling, FERC found that the lines “will not be used in a manner which results in transmission or sales for resale of electric energy in interstate commerce, including the commingling of electric energy between ERCOT and non-ERCOT regions.”

Accordingly, FERC agreed to disclaim its jurisdiction over the lines, transmission sales over those lines, and sales of electric energy with the exception of its jurisdiction “[P]ursuant to sections 210, 211, and 212 of the FPA, our reliability jurisdiction under section 215 of the FPA, and our authority under any other FPA provisions that provide for limited jurisdiction over ETT and/or its facilities.”