Tres Amigas Gets Half a Loaf from Ferc, Tips on Gaining Other Half

Michael Giberson

On March 18, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acted on the Tres Amigas project’s two regulatory requests submitted last October.  Tres Amigas has proposed to link the large scale power interconnections covering the eastern and western halves of the United States with the ERCOT interconnection in Texas.  The New Mexico-based project would facilitate trading power among the interconnections and aid development of electric power generation resources in all three areas.

In docket ER10-396-000, FERC granted the project’s request for negotiated rate authority subject to conditions intended “to ensure that the goals of open access are protected and that rates for transmission service on the Project remain just and reasonable by limiting Applicant’s ability to withhold the Project’s capacity from the market.”  Haven’t read the order yet, but when I have the chance I’ll let you know if I see something interesting.

In docket EL10-22-000, Tres Amigas requested the Commission agree not to assume federal jurisdiction over the parts of the ERCOT interconnection currently regulated by Texas just because the Tres Amigas project would allow ERCOT market participants to join in interstate commerce.  FERC concluded that the information submitted by Tres Amigas did not warrant a blanket disclaimer of jurisdiction and so denied the request. However, the Commission offered suggestions on how Tres Amigas may go about securing the jurisdictional assurance it wants without the Commission implicitly endorsing the various justifications the project offered in the company’s filing.

MORE: The FERC press release contains more information, and see Chairman Jon Wellinghoff’s statement, Commission Marc Spitzer’s statement, and Commissioner John Norris’s statement.  Mostly these statements say: we like innovative transmission infrastructure projects like this one, we support them as we can, we couldn’t quite swallow the jurisdictional request as presented, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like these kinds of projects.

The Wall Street Journal summarized the ruling, “Power Grid Connection Wins First Approval.” Bloomberg reports, “FERC Slows Tres Amigas Plan to Link U.S. Power Grids.”