WRTA had received conditional approval last October, but members were directed to provide comparable electric transmission service and file a single, regional transmission plan. The FERC reasoned that an RTG's primary purpose is to facilitate use of transmission services and resolve related disputes, making a regional plan necessary. The WRTA coordinating committee will prepare a plan biannually on coordinated transmission for the entire Western interconnection. But although WRTA members have an obligation to serve, they are not required to commit to the plan, and the RTG cannot force them to implement a specific proposal.
The WRTA plan will, however, set the standard for judging transmission projects. The FERC will defer to RTG regional plans. Therefore, when the WRTA process yields a plan, but a member proposes to a fulfill a transmission request differently, the FERC will consider the regional plan the standard in determining the reasonableness of the proposed service. Language added to the WRTA governing agreement will also allow Canadian members to provide interconnections and transmission service on a comparable basis to the maximum extent permitted by Canadian laws.
Commissioner James J. Hoecker was disappointed that the RTG plan was not binding on members. Nevertheless, he said the plan would serve as a benchmark for regulators and utilities, and as a regional planning model for the rest of the country.