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First Nonjurisdictional Utility Uses Order 888 "Safe-Harbor"

Fortnightly Magazine - August 1996

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on May 29 found that a nonjurisdictional utility's voluntary open-access tariff, with certain modifications, would meet the electric transmission comparability standards established by Order 888. In the first case of its kind, the South Carolina Public Service Authority (SCPSA) has agreed to satisfy the reciprocity requirement that it offer nondiscriminatory transmission services to obtain open-access service from public utilities (Docket No. NJ96-1-000).

SCPSA submitted the open-access tariff before Order 888 came out. The utility is authorized by the State of South Carolina and, thus, beyond FERC jurisdiction. But Order 888 provides a voluntary safe-harbor procedure for nonjurisdictional utilities. If such a utility voluntarily submits a transmission tariff and the FERC accepts it, a public utility cannot deny it open-access service. But the FERC emphasized that its review of SCPSA's tariff did not make SCPSA a jurisdictional utility.

Commissioner James J. Hoecker said the FERC thought so much of SCPSA's idea that it was codified into Order 888. Chair Elizabeth A. Moler agreed, but added: "We do give them some gratuitous advice, however, and hope they take it."

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