FERC Stymies PacifiCorp Plan to Sell Intertie Access

By Published On: August 10, 2007

PacifiCorp’s plan to sell off electricity transmission capability on its 47-mile section of the California-Oregon Intertie was rebuffed, at least temporarily, by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The four-decade old contract that allowed Pacific Gas & Electric to use the section of line expired August 1. Federal regulators suspended that expiration until the end of the year while they investigate whether it will affect reliability and whether the rates PacifiCorp plans to charge would be considered “just and reasonable.” “We tried to negotiate a new agreement in April. We think it’s close to being resolved,” said PacifiCorp director of transmission services Kenneth Houston. He said that just about the time the parties were about to ink the deal, FERC pulled the plug. “FERC didn’t know we made progress.” PacifiCorp customers did try to buy access on its part of the 500 kV line, he said. “They’re out in the cold. We retracted” those requests. PG&E is fighting PacifiCorp’s plans because it would add costs to the utility’s customers, said Steve Metague, PG&E transmission director. It would “pancake” transmission charges, he maintained. Instead of sending power in two segments–for instance from Bonneville Power to the California border for one charge (where the California Independent System Operator picks it up with an in-state charge)–there would be a new middle layer of transmission cost. “That could be a pretty significant burden for our customers.” PacifiCorp appears sanguine that FERC will allow it to proceed with its open access plans. It created a new group within the company and was approved by CAISO as a scheduling coordinator, according to Houston. “Our capacity is going to be fully available to the market,” said Houston. PacifiCorp said it would attempt an expedited process through FERC.

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