Michigan regulators to hold prehearing conference in June on proposed 138-kV project

As noted in the March filing, the Morenci Project facility, as designed, spans about 10.5 miles and is located in the Morenci area

The Michigan Public Service Commission, in a May 2 order, said that a prehearing conference regarding a proposed 138-kV facility to be located in the Morenci, Mich., area will be held on June 4.

As noted in the order, Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC); Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative; and Midwest Energy & Communications (ME&C) in March filed an application requesting that the commission issue an ex parte determination classifying METC’s proposed 138-kV facility as transmission under FERC’s seven-factor test, as applied by the commission.

As noted in the March application, the seven factors are:

  • Local distribution facilities are normally in close proximity to retail customers
  • Local distribution facilities are primarily radial in character
  • Power flows into local distribution systems; it rarely, if ever, flows out
  • When power enters a local distribution system, it is not transported, for instance, on to some other market
  • Power entering a local distribution system is consumed in a comparatively restricted geographical area
  • Meters are based at the transmission/local distribution interface to measure flows into the local distribution system
  • Local distribution systems will be of reduced voltage

The commission said in its May 2 order that ME&C notes in its application that there is load growth around Morenci due to existing and new customer requests. According to ME&C, load growth exceeds the current capability of ME&C’s Seneca 46/12.47-kV distribution station, as well as the upstream high-voltage, 46-kV distribution system of Consumers Energy, which presently distributes wholesale electricity to ME&C in the Morenci area using a 46-kV high-voltage distribution service line via the Seneca substation. The commission added that ME&C also said that its Seneca substation currently serves 4.5 MW of load in that area, and that ME&C expects growth of another 3 MW in 2019, as well as up to another 7 MW to 10 MW within the next eight years.

METC said that it received approval from, the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) Board of Directors to build a 138-kV transmission line to address the increased demand for wholesale electricity from Wolverine, which will be delivered to ME&C and distributed to retail customers (Morenci Project), the commission said.

As noted in the March filing, the Morenci Project facility, as designed, spans about 10.5 miles and is located in the Morenci area.

The commission said in its order that the joint applicants contend that the Morenci Project is crucial to load growth in the Morenci area and is the most cost-effective solution to the problem of increased demand. The joint applicants also contend that if the Morenci Project is not built, ME&C cannot meet the demand attributed to new customers and increased economic growth and, as a consequence, customers may choose another location and provider. The commission added that ME&C therefore asserts that transmission service from METC is required as soon as possible, but no later than 2020.

Consumers filed a complaint with FERC in April alleging that MISO inappropriately determined that the Morenci Project is transmission, the commission said, adding that in response, METC filed a motion with FERC last month as well, requesting that FERC, for instance, hold Consumers’ complaint in abeyance until the commission issues a determination on the seven-factor test.

Consumers subsequently filed a petition to intervene in the immediate case, asserting that classifying the Morenci Project as transmission “will increase certain transmission-related costs incurred by Consumers Energy and its customers.”

The commission added that it finds that a contested case, containing a fuller explanation of the project and an evidentiary record, is necessary for the commission to make a factual determination of whether the Morenci Project should be classified as transmission. As a result, the joint applicants’ request for an ex parte determination should be denied, the commission said, adding, “However, due to the significant increase in projected load growth and demand in the Morenci area, the commission recognizes the exigency of the joint applicants’ application.”

The commission said that it therefore begins a contested proceeding on the application filed by the joint applicants and serves notice that a prehearing conference will be held in the matter on June 4; petitions for intervention are to be filed by May 28.

The commission added that the record for the contested proceeding is to be completed by Sept. 26.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 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.