The Florida Public Service Commission Balks At Federal Order On Regional Electric Transmission, Seeks Rehearing

The Florida Public Service Commission is raising concerns about the implementation of a federal initiative that is designed to encourage regional planning for electricity transmission.

PSC member Eduardo Balbis said a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission compliance order on June 21 could result in higher electricity rates for Florida utility customers to pay for transmission line projects outside the state that won\’t benefit Florida.

The issue involves FERC Order 1000 of 2011 involving regional electricity transmission planning and cost allocations. The Public Service Commission in 2011 opposed Order 1000 and requested a rehearing but it was denied. The commission has joined Alabama and other organizations in an ongoing federal appeals court challenge.

On June 20, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that a Florida plan partially complied with the 2011 order but a cost allocation method proposed by three Florida utilities did not. Those utilities are Florida Power & Light Co., Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Co.

But FERC Commissioner Tony Clark, in a separate opinion, wrote that he fears by \”shoehorning\” the policy into a region \”with existing and extensive state-led planning, we could risk the creation of an expensive, potentially litigious and time-consuming additional layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. \”If this happens, the counter-productive result will not be more cost-effective and timely built transmission, but less,\” Clark wrote.

Balbis said he agrees with Clarks\’ statement and he urged the commission should make its rehearing request \”as robust as possible.\” \”This order concerns me,\” Balbis said. \”I don\’t think it applies to the state of Florida. I\’m glad to see at least one FERC commissioner agrees.\”

The purpose of Order 1000 is to improve the transmission of energy and provide more access to the electrical grid for renewable energy producers, said Kevin Jones, deputy director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law School. But the FERC initiative has been received better in other regions that historically have had integrated planning and voluntarily created regional transmission organizations, Jones said.

The initiative is creating federal-state tensions in Southeastern states, including Florida, that have seen less need for regional planning. \”Where the courts come down on FERC\’s authority to force the planning process to be more like it wants is unclear,\” he said. \”At the end of the day you are not going to build something in Florida without the Florida (Public Service) Commission approval\” since states have authority for transmission siting.

At  at meeting on July 9, representatives of Florida Power & Light Co. and Duke Energy said they share the commission\’s concerns and, along with Tampa Electric Co., are reviewing the case to decide whether to request a rehearing. The PSC voted unanimously to request a rehearing.


Source: The Florida Current

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