A Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge (ALJ), in an initial decision dated Aug. 31, granted Transource Pennsylvania LLC’s (Transource PA) application seeking approval to begin to furnish and supply electric transmission service in Franklin and York counties in Pennsylvania.
The PUC secretary, in a Sept. 14 filing to all parties in the matter, said that those who do not agree with any part of the ALJ decision are to send written comments – referred to as exceptions – to the PUC by Sept. 21. If no exceptions are received, the ALJ decision could become final without further PUC action, the secretary said, adding that even if no exceptions are received, the PUC may review and change the decision.
As noted in the initial decision, Transource PA in February filed the application, requesting PUC approval, including necessary certificates of public convenience and affiliated interest agreement approvals, authorizing Transource PA to begin to furnish and supply electric transmission service within two corridors to be located in Franklin and York counties.
Transource PA is responsible for the Pennsylvania portion of the Independence Energy Connection Project, which includes two new electric substations in Pennsylvania and two new 230-kV interstate transmission lines between Maryland and Pennsylvania identified by PJM Interconnection as Project 9A or Independence Project, the initial decision said.
As TransmissionHub reported, according to Transource PA’s application, to address transmission congestion constraints across the Pennsylvania and Maryland border, PJM Interconnection approved a market efficiency project, identified by PJM as Baseline Upgrade Numbers b2743 and b2752, and described from time to time as Project 9A. Baseline Upgrade Numbers b2743 and b2752 involve upgrades at existing substations in Maryland, two new substations in Pennsylvania, and two new interstate transmission lines between Maryland and Pennsylvania, Transource PA added.
The core of that baseline upgrade project comprises the transmission facilities designated by PJM to be built, owned, maintained, and operated by Transource PA and Transource Maryland, LLC (Transource MD), which together are referred to as the Independence Energy Connection project.
Transource PA also noted that it and Transource MD are wholly owned direct subsidiaries of Transource Energy, LLC, which is indirectly owned by a partnership between American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) and Great Plains Energy (NYSE:GXP) (GPE).
Transource PA said that upon receipt of all necessary approvals, Transource MD would build, own, operate, and maintain the Maryland portions of two proposed 230-kV interstate transmission lines associated with the Independence Project.
Noting that it is responsible for the Pennsylvania portion of the Independence Project, Transource PA said that it would build, own, maintain, and operate two new electric transmission substations in Pennsylvania, as well as the Pennsylvania portions of two new 230-kV interstate transmission lines that constitute the Pennsylvania portion of the Independence Project.
Pertinent to the Feb. 7 application, the company noted that the Pennsylvania portion of the Independence Project as approved by PJM involves:
- Construction of two new substations in Pennsylvania – the Rice and Furnace Run substations
- Construction of the Pennsylvania portion of two new, overhead, double-circuit, 230-kV interstate transmission lines – the Rice-Ringgold 230-kV Transmission Line and Furnace Run-Conastone 230-kV Transmission Line – as well as associated structures, equipment, and other facilities necessary to operate the lines
Upon receipt of all necessary approvals, the new Rice-Ringgold line would be sited to extend about 27 miles, connecting the existing Ringgold substation, which is located near Smithsburg, Washington County, Md., and the new Rice substation, to be located in Franklin County.
In addition to interconnecting with the Ringgold substation, the new Rice substation would tie into the existing Hunterstown-Conemaugh 500-kV Transmission Line, the company said.
Upon receipt of all necessary approvals, the new Furnace Run-Conastone line would be sited to extend about 15 miles, connecting the existing Conastone substation, which is located near Norrisville, Harford County, Md., and the new Furnace Run substation, to be located in York County.
The company added that in addition to interconnecting with the Conastone substation, the new Furnace Run substation would tie into the existing Three Mile Island-Peach Bottom 500-kV Transmission Line.
Upon completion of the Independence Project, and subject to receipt of all necessary approvals, Transource PA would provide electric transmission service within a transmission corridor to be sited from the new Rice substation in Franklin County to the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. Transource PA added that it would also provide electric transmission service within a transmission corridor to be sited from new Furnace Run substation in York County to the Pennsylvania/Maryland border.
As a prerequisite to carry out that needed utility work in Pennsylvania, Transource PA said that it seeks commission approval to begin to furnish and supply electric transmission service to, or for, the public through two new 230-kV transmission lines to be sited and located in Franklin and York counties.
The Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) and Transource PA on July 10 filed with the PUC a joint petition for stipulation and settlement of all issues regarding Transource PA’s application to begin supplying electric transmission service in Franklin and York counties in Pennsylvania.
Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, LLC (MAIT) and PECO Energy Company, the other parties in the proceeding (Docket Nos. A-2017-2587821 and G-2017-2587822), have indicated that they do not oppose the settlement, according to the filing.
As TransmissionHub reported, the OCA, in a March 6 protest filed with the PUC, requested that the PUC not approve at this time Transource PA’s application, saying that it is filing the protest in order to ensure that the application is approved only if it is “necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience or safety of the public.”
Under the settlement, the OCA and Transource PA agree that the PUC should approve Transource PA’s Feb. 7 application, subject to certain conditions.
As noted in the ALJ’s initial decision, the joint petitioners agreed to certain terms and conditions of settlement, including that:
- The certificate of public convenience issued to Transource under Section 1101 of the Public Utility Code should demarcate a service area of Franklin and York counties. The PUC’s issuance of a certificate of public convenience and demarcation of a service area does not constitute approval of any project proposed for the service area, including the Independence Project
- Intervenors in the proceeding reserve all rights to challenge the need for the Independence Project when Transource PA files a siting application with the PUC or to challenge any other project proposed by Transource PA
The ALJ found that there is a public need for additional electric transmission service in Franklin and York counties.
The ALJ added that PJM evaluated multiple alternative proposals and selected Transource Energy’s Project 9A proposal because it provided the most benefits, including the most total congestion savings, most production cost savings, and a benefit-to-cost ratio exceeding 1.25. Therefore, PJM determined that Project 9A is necessary to alleviate transmission congestion and adopted the proposal as a base line project. The core of that baseline upgrade project, the ALJ added, comprises the transmission facilities designated by PJM to be built, owned, maintained, and operated by Transource PA and Transource MD, which together are referred to as the Independence Project.
The ALJ also noted that granting Transource PA public utility status prior to the filing of a siting application will facilitate Transource PA’s preparation of its siting application and help Transource PA with the early detection and avoidance of potential environmental issues to the extent possible.
“After due consideration of each party’s position and reviewing the application as modified by the settlement and supporting testimonies, I find that approval of this application is necessary and proper for the service, accommodation, and convenience of the public,” the ALJ said. “For these reasons, approval of the application is in the public interest; thus, a certificate of public convenience shall be granted and the affiliated interest agreements shall be approved.”