The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued its comprehensive notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) designed to move the wholesale electric industry to a more competitive marketplace. The order, Open Access Non-discriminatory Transmission Services by Public Utilities and Recovery of Stranded Costs by Public and Transmitting Utilities, weighs in at over 300 pages (Docket Nos. RM95-8-000 and RM94-7-001).
The NOPR requires all electric utilities to file open-access transmission tariffs available to all wholesale sellers and buyers of electricity. The service must be "comparable" to the service the utilities provide to themselves, and they must take service under the same tariffs. (The FERC said it believes 137 utilities will be required to open their lines; only 21 utilities currently maintain any form of open access.)
The NOPR requires that transmission utilities offer point-to-point and network transmission services, including ancillary services, such as scheduling and dispatch. Two pro forma tariffs set forth the minimum requirements. Utilities must enlarge transmission capacity if necessary to provide a requested transmission service. The transmission owner cannot give its own activities any unfair advantages over those of competitors. When evaluating tariffs, the FERC will require that 1) the terms and conditions of service be clear and specific, and 2) any limitations apply only to verifiable technical and operational needs.