Utilities support Cal-ISO move to transfer control of switchyard at 230-kV substation

In two related proceedings at FERC, utilities San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and NV Energy, along with the California ISO (Cal-ISO), have sought FERC’s permission to change ownership and control of facilities associated with the Merchant substation in Nevada so that the facilities, including a 230-kV transmission line connecting the Merchant and Eldorado substations, will become part of the Cal-ISO balancing authority area.

The utilities, in separate Jan. 7 filings at FERC, said they support Cal-ISO’s Dec. 17, 2015, petition to amend a balancing authority operating agreement to accommodate the transition of the 230-kV Merchant substation to the Cal-ISO balancing authority area.

The petition (Docket No. ER16-545) is needed because NV Energy owns the north bus at the Merchant substation while SDG&E owns the south bus at the substation, and NV Energy intends to transfer ownership of its facilities at the substation to SDG&E. Those facilities include a 230-kV transmission line connecting the Merchant and Eldorado substations, according to Cal-ISO’s petition, which noted that NV Energy completed a new interconnection with the Eldorado substation.

The parties began trying to change the Merchant switchyard from the NV Energy balancing authority area to the Cal-ISO in 2012, with the interim configuration resulting in an intertie between the two balancing authority areas within the Merchant switchyard, Cal-ISO explained to FERC. Approving the petition would remove that configuration such that the entire substation would be within the Cal-ISO balancing authority area and Cal-ISO’s control, since SDG&E is a participating transmission owner in the Cal-ISO and has given Cal-ISO control of its transmission system.

In the related filing (Docket No. ER16-553) submitted to FERC Dec. 18, 2015, SDG&E and NV Energy sought to amend a substation operation and maintenance agreement to reflect the change in ownership of the assets and duties of the companies.

“The parties have agreed that SDG&E shall undertake certain operational activities on [NV Energy’s] behalf until the ownership transfer has been completed,” SDG&E said.

That will allow the NV Energy facilities – during the interim period until FERC signs off on the arrangement – to be used by Cal-ISO market participants on the same basis as other facilities in the Cal-ISO grid, SDG&E said. 

The utilities have agreed to change the operation and maintenance agreement to reverse the roles of customer and service provider, with SDG&E providing services on NV Energy’s behalf with respect to the Merchant substation facilities that have been owned by NV Energy, NV Energy said in its Jan. 7 filing.

NV Energy said that the utilities accomplished the transfer of operational activities on Dec. 18, 2015, and it supported the Cal-ISO’s request to make the effective date of the balancing authority operating agreement amendment Dec. 18, 2015.

SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) and NV Energy is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy.