NextEra Energy Transmission New York (NEETNY) on Dec. 14 filed with the New York State Public Service Commission a petition requesting that the commission grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) under Section 68 of the Public Service Law (PSL) authorizing NEETNY to exercise the rights granted to it by certain towns to occupy and traverse public property in relation to the company’s proposed Empire State Line (ESL) Project.
The company attached to the petition road use and crossing agreements executed by NEETNY and the towns of Newstead, Royalton, Elma, and Lancaster in New York.
As noted in the petition, NEETNY has proposed to build, own, and operate the ESL Project, which is an approximately 20-mile, 345-kV electric transmission line and associated switchyards in the Town of Royalton, Niagara County, N.Y., and the towns of Alden, Newstead, Lancaster, and Elma, Erie County, N.Y.
NEETNY noted that it filed in August an application with the commission for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need under Article VII of the PSL for authorization to build and operate the ESL project. That application is pending before the commission.
NEETNY also noted that the commission in July 2015 issued an order stating that congestion in Western New York was adversely impacting the performance of the bulk power transmission system by limiting the output of the state’s largest renewable resource, the Niagara hydroelectric power plant.
The commission further determined that relieving congestion in Western New York would increase access to additional imports of renewable energy from Ontario. NEETNY added that the commission also determined that significant environmental, economic, and reliability benefits could be achieved by relieving the transmission congestion identified in Western New York, including access to increased output from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Niagara hydroelectric facility and system reliability benefits, specifically, increased operational flexibility, efficiency, and avoiding the need to maintain generation that would otherwise retire.
The commission directed the New York ISO (NYISO) to consider solutions for increasing Western New York transmission capability sufficient to ensure 2,700 MW from NYPA’s Niagara hydroelectric generating facility and 1,000 MW of renewable imports from Ontario could be transmitted across the Niagara tie lines.
NEETNY also said that the NYISO last October determined that the ESL Project is the most efficient and cost-effective solution to address the Western New York public policy transmission needs. NEETNY said that the NYISO concluded that the ESL Project would enable delivery of 2,700 MW of NYPA’s Niagara hydroelectric facility and 1,000 MW of import from Ontario, provide $274m in production cost savings, reduce New York Control Area Demand Congestion by $582m, and reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 7.4 million tons.
PSL § 68(1) provides that no gas corporation or electric corporation is to begin construction of a gas plant or electric plant without first having obtained the permission and approval of the commission.
“No such corporation shall exercise any right or privilege under any franchise hereafter granted, or under any franchise heretofore granted but not heretofore actually exercised, or the exercise of which shall have been suspended for more than one year, without first having obtained a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the commission,” PSL § 68(1) states. “Before such certificate shall be issued a certified copy of the charter of such corporation shall be filed in the office of the commission, together with a verified statement of the president and secretary of the corporation, showing that it has received the required consent of the proper municipal authorities. The commission shall have power to grant the permission and approval herein specified whenever it shall after due hearing determine that such construction or such exercise of the right, privilege or franchise is convenient and necessary for the public service. In making such a determination, the commission shall consider the economic feasibility of the corporation, the corporation’s ability to finance improvements of a gas plant or electric plant, render safe, adequate and reliable service, and provide just and reasonable rates, and whether issuance of a certificate is in the public interest.”
NEETNY added that while the requirement for commission construction approval will be considered in the Article VII proceeding, the requirement for approval of the exercise of a franchise has not been supplanted. The commission has concluded that, as used in PSL § 68, the term “franchise” includes consents to use municipal property. Accordingly, in determining whether to grant a CPCN to NEETNY, the commission need not consider the environmental compatibility and public need issues, or whether issuance of a certificate is in the public interest, as those issues are being addressed in the Article VII proceeding.
Rather, in this proceeding, the commission should only “consider the economic feasibility of the corporation, the corporation’s ability to finance improvements of a gas plant or electric plant, render safe, adequate and reliable service, and provide just and reasonable rates…,” NEETNY said.
In support of its request, NEETNY said that it provides certain information, including a certified copy of its certificate of good standing.
As noted in the petition, NEETNY’s parent company is NextEra Energy Transmission, LLC, which is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE).