The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week acted to promote broader regional transmission planning in the U.S. Western Interconnection by clarifying that an Order No. 1000 regional transmission planning process may conduct transmission planning on behalf of non-public utility transmission providers, commonly referred to as public power utilities, that do not enroll in the transmission planning region. The participation of non-public utility transmission providers in the regional transmission planning processes will expand opportunities to identify and propose more efficient or cost-effective regional transmission projects.
Order No. 1000 requires public utility transmission providers to enroll in a regional transmission planning process that includes a regional cost allocation method for allocating costs of transmission projects selected in the regional transmission plan for purposes of cost allocation. Non-public utility transmission providers are not required to enroll; however, if they choose to enroll they are subject to the regional cost allocation method.
Addressing Order No. 1000 compliance filings for the ColumbiaGrid and WestConnect transmission planning regions, the Commission today affirmed that cost allocation determinations made through the regional transmission planning process are binding upon enrolled transmission providers that are identified as beneficiaries. However, the Commission also clarified that non-public utility transmission providers can be planned for under an Order No. 1000 regional transmission planning process without enrolling in the region if the enrolled public utility transmission providers in the region elect to do so. If such a non-public utility transmission provider is allocated costs under the regional cost allocation method, it can determine whether, consistent with its view of its statutory authorities, it will accept those costs.
Today’s orders cite the unique circumstances in the ColumbiaGrid and WestConnect regions, where facilities owned by public power transmission providers not subject to the mandatory provisions of Order No. 1000, including Bonneville Power Administration, comprise a significant portion of the regional transmission grid. FERC said the clarification provided by the orders will foster continued, proactive cooperation between public and non-public utility transmission providers, increase transparency, and allow regional transmission planning to be conducted inclusive of non-public utility transmission providers, so as to expand opportunities for identifying and proposing more efficient or cost-effective regional transmission projects.