FERC plans technical conference on Order 1000, Bay tells NARUC

FERC will hold a technical conference later this year on Order 1000 to get a sense of how the ruling is working in the transmission planning sector, FERC Chairman Norman Bay said Feb. 15 at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) winter committee meetings.

Bay said that the objective of Order 1000 was to incent more transmission development, and a lot of work has been done in compliance with the final rule, but FERC wants to get a sense of how the rule is working in the transmission planning sector.

“We’re almost done with regional planning” following several years of compliance work among different planning regions, but more activity is needed on “interregional transmission,” Bay said during a question and answer session with NARUC President Travis Kavulla of the Montana Public Service Commission.

The technical conference will address “a number of issues related to Order 1000,” Bay told Kavulla, without getting into specifics.

Following Bay’s remarks, FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable told TransmissionHub Feb. 15 that she called for the session to assess progress on interregional transmission projects.

“I hope to see a robust and frank discussion” on whether Order 1000 is working as expected or if there are some “unintended consequences” in the compliance plans for the rule, Honorable said.

FERC staff recently issued a white paper on the Order 1000 process, she added.

FERC mentioned the intent to hold a technical conference in a January order involving a NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) subsidiary, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur told TransmissionHub Feb. 15 following Bay’s comments. In that decision, FERC raised questions about the competitive bidding process for transmission projects, LaFleur said.

As TransmissionHub reported, when FERC issued the Jan. 8 order approving incentive rate treatment to NextEra Energy Transmission West LLC (NEET West) for its development of two projects through the California ISO’s (Cal-ISO) competitive transmission development process, the commission noted that NEET West included a cost cap for the projects in the Cal-ISO process. The inclusion of cost caps “highlights broader policy considerations” related to the potential benefits of cost containment measures in competitive transmission development, FERC said in the order, indicating that a technical conference would be held.

FERC has not issued a notice of the technical conference at this point, but the intent is to gather input from different stakeholders, Bay said at the NARUC session.

Kavulla noted that FERC has scheduled numerous technical conferences on a variety of topics, including power grid reliability, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), and supply chain management for power grid equipment.

“I believe in the value of technical conferences” to allow FERC to gain feedback from the power industry on different issues, Bay said.

The sessions often help FERC commissioners and staffers better understand issues surrounding a proposed rulemaking or case pending at FERC, he told Kavulla.

The commission is working through some of the technical issues around PURPA and allowing exemptions to the rule, Bay said. It is too soon to say what might be gleaned from the technical conference, he said.