Thursday, February 21, 2019

FERC Upholds PJM TOs’ Supplemental Project Rules

By Rich Heidorn Jr.

FERC on Wednesday rejected a rehearing request over PJM Transmission Owners’ revised processes for planning supplemental projects, ruling it in compliance with Order 890.

The commission denied a request by American Municipal Power, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and others seeking rehearing of the commission’s Feb. 15, 2018, ruling that the TOs’ processes for developing supplemental projects fell short of Order 890’s transparency and coordination requirements. FERC also approved PJM’s and the TOs’ compliance filing in response to the February ruling (ER17-179, EL16-71-002).

PJM’s Transmission Replacement Processes Senior Task Force meets earlier this year. | © RTO Insider

PJM stakeholders have long complained about the rules involving supplemental projects — transmission expansions or enhancements not required for compliance with PJM system reliability, operational performance or economic criteria. TOs can develop, build and seek reimbursement for such projects without the approval of PJM, which only reviews them to ensure they don’t harm reliability.

The Feb. 15 order approved a proposal to move the TOs’ process for planning supplemental projects from the Operating Agreement to Attachment M-3 of the Tariff but required PJM and the TOs to make changes to the attachment and the OA. (See FERC Orders New Rules for Supplemental Tx Projects in PJM.)

The commission said the rehearing request “largely repeats arguments” made earlier in the docket. “We are not persuaded that the commission erred in the February 15 order, which we believe appropriately responds to these concerns.”

AMP, ODEC and others argued the commission erred in permitting Attachment M-3 because it circumvented the division of filing rights in PJM, including the supermajority vote of the Members Committee required for changes to the Operating Agreement. They also said the commission should have required the TOs to respond to stakeholder comments under the supplemental process.

“Order No. 890 requires that stakeholders be afforded the opportunity to provide meaningful input, and that public utility transmission providers ‘craft a process that allows for a reasonable and meaningful opportunity to meet or otherwise interact meaningfully,’” the commission said. “Its requirements are not so prescriptive as to dictate whether and how the PJM Transmission Owners must respond to that input. While we encourage the PJM Transmission Owners to be as responsive as possible to stakeholder comments, we also realize that not all comments may require answer.”

In addition to AMP and ODEC, those seeking rehearing and challenging the March 19 compliance filing were the Delaware Division of the Public Advocate, PJM Industrial Customer Coalition, Illinois Citizens Utility Board, Office of the People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia and Public Power Association of New Jersey, which FERC named the “Load Group.”

“The Load Group’s requests for various additional provisions go beyond what the commission required in, and constitute requests for rehearing of, the February 15 order,” the commission said. “We therefore find these requests to be outside the scope of the compliance proceeding, and were we to consider them as requests for rehearing, would deny them.”