NESCOE Submission Regarding Transmission Needs Driven by State and Federal Public Policy Requirements
May 1, 2020
Pursuant to Section 4A.1 of Attachment K of the ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) Open Access Transmission Tariff (the “OATT”), the New England States Committee on Electricity (“NESCOE”) hereby provides this submission to ISO-NE regarding transmission needs driven by state and federal Public Policy Requirements (“PPRs”). The Tariff defines a PPR as “a requirement reflected in a statute enacted by, or a regulation promulgated by, the federal government or a state or local (e.g., municipal or county) government.”
NESCOE has carefully considered the input that members of the ISO-NE Planning Advisory Committee (the “Stakeholders”) have provided regarding state or federal public policy-driven transmissions needs. Two Stakeholders, National Grid and the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island (the “Diocese”), identified PPRs or other actions that, in their view, drive transmission needs.
NESCOE is not requesting that ISO-NE initiate a Public Policy Transmission Study for the current planning cycle. For the reasons discussed in this submission, there are no Stakeholder-identified state or federal PPRs “driving transmission needs relating to the New England Transmission System” at this time.
As part of this submission, in accordance with Section 4A.1, NESCOE explains why Stakeholder-identified transmission needs should not be evaluated for potential solutions. While not required under Section 4A.1, given Stakeholders’ focus on individual state laws, the explanation regarding those state laws is provided in the form of responses from a NESCOE manager of each New England state. These responses, which are attached, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this NESCOE submission. No Stakeholder identified a federal PPR as driving a transmission need.
Stakeholder-identified state PPRs driving a transmission need
For the reasons each state provides in the attached responses, there are no state PPRs “driving transmission needs relating to the New England Transmission System” for the current planning cycle pursuant to Section 4A.1.
Stakeholder-identified federal PPRs driving a transmission need
Stakeholders identifying PPRs that drive a transmission need submit a public policy input form that specifies the statutes, regulations, or other actions underlying such a need. For this 2020 planning cycle for public policy-driven transmission needs, no Stakeholder identified that any federal law currently drives a transmission need. Accordingly, there is no Stakeholder request for NESCOE, or ISO-NE, to consider regarding federal PPRs driving transmission needs.
While no Stakeholder identified a federal PPR as driving a transmission need, the Diocese cited in its public policy input form to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) Order No. 1000, OATT Schedules 11 and 12, and Section 3.04(a)(iv) of the Transmission Operating Agreement (“TOA”). NESCOE takes the opportunity to address the Diocese’s reference to Order 1000 as well as provisions contained in the OATT and the TOA.
In its submission, the Diocese stated that it is seeking to develop a 2.2 megawatt solar project in Rhode Island. The Diocese stated that the Narraganset Electric Company (“Narraganset”) has delayed the interconnection of the project to the distribution system pending the outcome of a transmission system impact analysis and that Narraganset has informed the Diocese that it may be responsible for the costs of transmission system upgrades depending on the outcome of the analysis. Under Sections I.3.9 of the Tariff, certain projects require study “to ensure that the proposed system change does not have a significant adverse impact on the regional power system.” Section I.3.10 provides that a project “determined to have a significant adverse effect upon the reliability or operating characteristics of the” system will not be allowed to proceed unless transmission system upgrades of other actions are taken “as [ISO-NE] determines to be reasonably necessary to avoid such adverse effect.”
The Diocese referenced a proceeding before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (“RI PUC”) where it petitioned the RI PUC “for a declaratory judgment that the Diocese cannot and should not be held accountable for transmission system upgrade costs under federal and state law and policy and that the interconnection of its project should not be further delayed but authorized to proceed” while the impact study is being completed. Through its submission as part of the Section 4A process, the Diocese appears to be requesting that any transmission system upgrades arising out of the Section I.3.9 impact study be considered Public Policy Transmission Upgrades and that those costs be regionalized rather than allocated to the Diocese.
NESCOE recognizes and appreciates the laudatory objectives of the proposed project, which is intended to promote the Diocese’s mission of serving its community. NESCOE takes no position on the merits of the issues that the Diocese raises regarding Sections I.3.9 and I.3.10 of the Tariff and in the proceeding before the RI PUC, which are beyond the scope of these public policy transmission planning procedures.
However, the Diocese request appears to reflect confusion about the Tariff process for ISO-NE to designate a project as a Public Policy Transmission Upgrade. Under the structure that FERC required for considering public policy-driven transmission needs, no project can be designated as a Public Policy Transmission Upgrade until ISO-NE has administered its two-part Tariff process for (1) identifying policies that drive transmission needs, and (2) evaluating potential solutions to meet those needs. Sections 4A.1 and 4A.1.1 govern the first part of the process (policy identification) and the remainder of Section 4A concerns the second part of the process (solution evaluation) including the criteria ISO-NE applies in selecting a project for placement in the Regional System Plan. The Diocese request would end a process that has barely begun, moving straight to project selection before ISO-NE, states, and regional stakeholders have had an opportunity to consider a range of potentially cost-effective and efficient solutions to meet policy-driven needs. The Tariff that FERC approved does not allow for such an outcome. Moreover, for the reasons set forth in Rhode Island’s response to the Diocese request (see Attachment A), none of the state PPRs that the Diocese identified as driving transmission needs warrant the evaluation of potential solutions at this time.
In addition, to the extent the Diocese contends that Order 1000 requires as a matter of law that its interconnection-related costs be designated as a Public Policy Transmission Upgrade, NESCOE does not agree. Order 1000 “merely require[d] regions to establish processes for identifying and evaluating public policies that might affect transmission needs.” It did not prescribe substantive outcomes, such as mandating that certain project types or categories of transmission costs would be public policy-driven upgrades. In fact, Section 4A does not require that ISO-NE select any project for inclusion in the Regional System Plan following its evaluation of potential solutions, and ISO-NE can cancel its request for proposed solutions at any time while also having the ability to remove a public policy-driven project from the Regional System Plan.
Without further elaboration, the Diocese also appears to assert that OATT Schedules 11 and 12 and Section 3.04(a)(iv) of the TOA require that transmission system upgrades identified in the Section I.3.9 impact study be considered Public Policy Transmission Upgrades and that the costs of those upgrades be more broadly allocated. Schedule 11 provides rules governing cost responsibility for generator interconnection-related upgrades and elective transmission interconnection-related upgrades. Schedule 12 sets forth the cost allocation rules for categories of transmission facilities, including Public Policy Transmission Upgrades. Section 3.04(a)(iv) of the TOA relates to a Participating Transmission Owner’s authority under Section 205 of the Federal Power Act to make rate filings with FERC for certain transmission facilities. Nothing in Schedules 11 and 12 of the OATT or Section 3.04(a)(iv) of the TOA contravenes or overrides the process prescribed in Section 4A for ISO-NE to select a project as a Public Policy Transmission Upgrade. Moreover, these provisions do not meet the definition of a PPR under the Tariff.
NESCOE appreciates ISO-NE’s efforts in initiating the 2020 planning cycle for considering public policy-driven transmission needs. NESCOE looks forward to continuing to work with ISO-NE and regional stakeholders in evaluating electric power system needs and, as appropriate, implementing competitive processes that seek to select projects that deliver meaningful consumer benefits while driving down costs.
[See PDF State Specific Submissions]