FERC slammed for ‘illegal’ re-writing of transmission rules, ‘discriminatory transmission rates’

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FERC has proposed to amend a recent Order to permit the exercise of a federal rights of first refusal (ROFR) for transmission facilities. Image: Ryan McKnight/Flickr

The Electricity Transmission Competition Coalition (ETCC) has called for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to require transmission competition for projects that are 100kV or larger, branding a lack of competition as “inflationary policy” and slamming the Commission’s decision to re-write its refusal rules.  

Representing a coalition of more than 80 consumer organisations, the ETCC said FERC needed to fulfil its mandate to provide affordable energy to households and businesses, as it doubled down on its argument for a competitively-bid transmission process.

In strongly worded comments filed with FERC, the ETCC pointed to a “failed” FERC proposal to provide adequate consumer protection against “unjust, unreasonable and unduly discriminatory transmission rates”.

“If FERC chooses to reject competition, it is choosing to abandon its mandate to protect consumers and instead support the incumbent monopoly utilities who oppose competition in order to protect and enhance their profitability,” said ETCC chair Paul Cicio.

In April, FERC published its Order No. 1000, which is a Final Rule that reforms the Commission’s electric transmission planning and cost allocation requirements for public utility transmission providers.

You can view the full text of the Order here and PV Tech has previously reported on what FERC Order 1000 means for renewable energy project access to the grid as well as how FERC proposed to amend the Order to “permit the exercise of a federal rights of first refusal (ROFR) for transmission facilities”.

Continuing its attack, the ETCC said: “FERC does not have the legal authority to rewrite Order 1000, and the proposed changes to the order, including the reinstatement of a federal right of first refusal (ROFR), which are therefore illegal and beyond the Commission’s authority.”

“In addition to these numerous legal deficiencies, the Commission has failed in the fundamental test of proving that its proposal is just, reasonable and not unduly discriminatory or preferential,” the organisation said.

And the ETCC is not alone. Also today, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urged FERC not to restore a ROFR. In their filing, the DOJ and FTC stated that the reimposition of a ROFR would “block competitors and increase costs for consumers”, citing examples where competition has led to lower costs and innovation.

The ETCC said electricity transmission competition “has been shown to lower costs by as much as 40%” and that, in an era of soaring electricity price inflation, “it is essential that transmission projects that are 100kV or larger are competitively bid”.

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