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Electric Transmission: Do State Regulators Still Have a Voice?

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1999

the Southeast (no mandates). But it also voices a concern about how to handle interfaces among regional ISOs - a problem noted often by regulators in the Northeast and Midwest.

Can Texas forever remain a FERC-free zone? Only time will tell.

Outlook: A Real Collaboration?

Overall, the state PUCs seem most concerned over the question of whether transmission restructuring will proceed voluntarily, with real collaboration with state regulators, or whether the FERC simply will follow its own prerogatives.

In particular, the Michigan PSC criticizes the FERC for its July 30 decision in the Entergy transco case (Docket No. ER99-57-000), which stated that passive ownership by TOs can satisfy the ISO standard for independent governance. Michigan regulators note that the FERC acted despite concerns raised by state regulators in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Said Michigan, "This FERC order creates doubt that it will really follow through on its stated intentions to give deference to states."

Meanwhile, the major deadline for non-ISO regions is Oct. 15, 2000. They must either file a concrete RTO proposal or explain their RTO efforts to date along with any future plans. But some state regulators remain skeptical, as shown by this last comment:

"The Wyoming PSC must admit it is somewhat puzzled concerning the inclusion of filing deadlines in an otherwise voluntary proposal.

"Although the FERC speaks of possible quick action and incentives for ¼ meeting or beating the Oct. 15, 2000 deadline [for RTO proposals] ¼ it is disturbingly unclear as to what happens to those entities who file an explanation instead."

Bruce W. Radford is editor-in-chief of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

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