PUCT to establish new procedural schedule for Entergy/ITC transaction

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) has scheduled a prehearing conference for Oct. 7 to establish a new procedural schedule for the spinoff of Entergy’s (NYSE:ETR) transmission assets to ITC Holdings (NYSE:ITC).

ITC and Entergy on Oct. 1 filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) a status report on the companies’ progress with their transaction, indicating they are working to resume the procedural schedules in that and other jurisdictions in order to receive the required regulatory approvals before the transaction’s Dec. 31 deadline.

The Arkansas and Louisiana PSCs in late August suspended their procedural schedules, saying that they would adopt new schedules if and when the companies refiled their application with Texas regulators.

ITC and Entergy refiled their application with the PUCT on Sept. 23, requesting that the commissioners hear the case, rather than refer it to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

“Our filing in Texas is in many ways the same filing we’d already made, but we made some additions – the additions of the rate mitigation plan and other commitments we made that weren’t allowed on the record in Texas,” Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said at the Sept. 24 Wolfe Research Power and Gas Leaders Conference.

The companies withdrew their application with the PUCT in early August because Texas regulators determined they were unable to consider the rate mitigation plan since it was filed after the statutory deadline for submissions in the case.

ITC and Entergy on Sept. 25 notified the Louisiana PSC that they had refiled their application in Texas and have requested a status conference with the Louisiana PSC administrative law judge to reset the remainder of the procedural schedule.

The remainder of the schedule includes filing testimony of the commission staff and interveners in response to the companies’ amended proposed commitments, the filing of post-hearing initial and reply briefs, and the issuance of a final recommendation by the law judge.

The procedural schedule is suspended in Arkansas pending the resumption of the proceedings, a spokesperson for the Arkansas PSC told TransmissionHub. There is no deadline by which the commission must agree to the revised schedule, the spokesperson said.

The companies have begun to reach out to other parties to discuss hearing dates, they said in the Oct. 1 report. “Applicants will continue to work with the other parties to identify a mutually agreeable hearing date and corresponding settlement deadline,” they said.

The Mississippi PSC’s procedural schedule drew to a close on Sept. 25 and all evidence has been gathered and is complete. There is no required timeframe in which the commission must render a decision. Entergy and ITC filed their response to Mississippi PSC staff’s conditions on Sept. 25.

The New Orleans City Council at its Utility Committee meeting on Sept. 25 adopted a resolution suspending the procedural schedule, which had called for the city’s utility advisors to file testimony on Oct. 3 and for a hearing in late November.

The resolution provides for the interveners, applicants and council’s advisors to come to an agreement on a new procedural schedule within 14 days.

“The way the resolution was structured [was] if there was concurrence among the interveners, applications and the advisers, the schedule would just be filed with the administrative hearing officer and it’s a done deal,” a source familiar with the matter told TransmissionHub on Oct. 1. “The only reason they’d have to come back to the council is if they can’t come to an agreement on what the schedule should be.”

The next council meetings are Oct. 10 and Oct. 24. 

PUCT staff, the Office of Public Utility Counsel, State of Texas’ agencies and institutions of higher education, Occidental Chemical Corporation, Occidental Permian, Occidental Power Marketing, and Texas Industrial Energy Consumers requested that the new proposed schedule in Texas be denied, and said they planned to propose an alternate procedural schedule before Oct. 7.

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.