Tuesday, March 19, 2019

NYPSC Challenges FERC Jurisdiction over Ginna

By William Opalka

Efforts to keep the Ginna nuclear plant operating has spurred a turf war between federal and state regulators who are conducting independent reviews.

The New York Public Service Commission asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday for a rehearing of FERC’s April ruling that rejected the rate schedule in the reliability support services agreement between Ginna’s owner and the local distribution utility (ER15-1047). FERC ordered settlement and hearing procedures. (See FERC Rejects Ginna Rates, Orders Settlement Proceeding.)

The PSC said FERC interfered by “illegally” claiming jurisdiction over retail rates when it rejected some contract terms. It said FERC also violated the Federal Power Act when it declared the RSSA a reliability-must-run agreement and interfered with state jurisdiction to determine a mix of adequate resources.

“FERC ignores the fact that the NYPSC has an obligation under state law to ensure the availability of adequate generation facilities needed for reliability and is currently exercising its authority in reviewing the Ginna RSSA,” the New York regulators wrote. “The commission’s assertion of jurisdiction over the underlying terms of the RSSA would interfere with the NYPSC’s authority and represents an impermissible overreach of the commission’s jurisdiction.”

The RSSA was ordered by state officials and is scheduled to be retroactive to April 1, once approved by regulators. The agreement would cost about $175 million a year and be effective through late 2018. Ginna says it lost more than $150 million between 2011 and 2013.

Several other parties also asked FERC for clarifications or rehearings of the April order last week:

  • Industrial and commercial customers questioned the September 2018 end date for the RSSA, noting that a proposed transmission project that is supposed to make Ginna’s continued operation unnecessary may go online in early 2017. The intervenors suggest the RSSA should be terminated at that time and not after its entire term.
  • Entergy Nuclear Power Marketing asked that the issue of the initial term also be considered in the settlement process.
  • TC Ravenswood wants FERC’s review to expand into a consideration of the “price-suppressive” effects Ginna’s contract would have on the capacity market.
  • The Alliance for a Green Economy asked for another reliability study, saying information from discovery in the NYPSC proceeding undermines the rationale for the RSSA.
  • Exelon’s Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, Ginna’s owner, proposed a cost-of-service cap to address FERC’s rejection of the negotiated rates with Rochester Gas & Electric.

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