KCC opens investigation on whether annual or periodic reporting by SPP, participating utilities is in public interest

The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) on Jan. 19 ordered that a general investigation be opened to examine whether annual or periodic reporting by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and Kansas utilities that participate in SPP, is in the public interest.

SPP Executive Vice President of Regulatory Policy and General Counsel Paul Suskie, in a statement provided to TransmissionHub on Jan. 19, said: “SPP is aware of the order, which we expected and which is very similar to those of other state commissions who from time to time evaluate the benefits of RTO membership. SPP will follow all directives of the KCC.”

As noted in the Jan. 19 order, the KCC in September 2006 issued an order approving the SPP’s request for a certificate of convenience and authority for the limited purpose of managing and coordinating the use of certain Kansas utilities’ transmission facilities. The commission allowed certain utilities to transfer functional control of their transmission facilities to SPP and reserved its own authority to require SPP to make certain required filings.

The order also noted that the KCC found that it had authority to open an investigation to review SPP’s operations as it does with any other certificated utility in the state, including an investigation by KCC staff to determine whether SPP’s certificate should be revoked or to consider whether Kansas utilities should withdraw from the SPP RTO.

The KCC added that a commission staff report and recommendation – which was incorporated into the KCC’s June 9, 2014 “show cause order” – stated that SPP had not provided sufficient data and time for proper state regulatory analysis regarding public interest, zonal cost/benefit impacts, retail rate impacts, justness and reasonableness, and potential discriminatory/preferential rate treatment with respect to the addition of new SPP members. Staff further asserted that some of the proposed revisions/additions to SPP’s open access transmission tariff (OATT) were potentially detrimental to Kansas retail ratepayers and would set undesirable precedents if SPP’s membership continues to grow.

The KCC added that it shared staff’s concerns and it ordered SPP to show cause why the proposed terms and conditions it offered to the entities collectively known as “Integrated System” (IS) were in the public interest of Kansas retail electric ratepayers.

An October 2014 KCC order noted staff’s recommendations that a general investigation be opened to investigate the value of requiring SPP to file periodic or annual reports to the KCC addressing the benefits of continued SPP membership for Kansas utilities; and to investigate the value of requiring regulated Kansas SPP-member Transmission Owners (TO) to file periodic or annual reports addressing utility-specific benefits of continued SPP membership for each utility’s retail ratepayers.

The KCC added that in a report submitted last September, staff said that a docket should be opened to revisit the issue of annual reporting and whether future reporting by SPP and Kansas TOs regarding the costs and benefits to Kansas utilities and ratepayers afforded by continued SPP membership is in the public interest.

Among other things, the KCC said that it seeks comments from parties in the proceeding on certain questions, including:

  • In the event that the KCC requires a study to determine the costs and benefits associated with continued membership in SPP, what specific parameters should be included in the study?
  • Without a study, is it possible to say with certainty whether Kansas ratepayers are better off today with Kansas electric utilities being members of SPP, and would it be possible after the study?
  • Is it feasible for Kansas to form its own regional transmission planning entity similar to what New York and California have done, and if so, should the costs and benefits of that possibility be evaluated in the study?

Parties wishing to provide initial comments are to file such comments in the docket (Docket No. 17-SPPE-117-GIE) within 30 days from the order’s date, the KCC said. 

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3063 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.