Jurisdiction D?j? Vu over Transbay Transmission?

By Published On: June 18, 2005

The California Public Utilities Commission asked its federal counterpart June 9 to give it more time to nail down a course of action for an underwater transmission project that would cut the CPUC out of the siting loop. If approved by federal regulators, it could create another jurisdictional clash between state and federal regulators. Last month, Babcock & Brown?s Trans Bay Cable company requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expedite approval of its proposed line from Pittsburg running under the San Francisco Bay into San Francisco. Babcock insisted the project would not involve CPUC jurisdiction. CPUC attorney Larry Chaset said there shouldn?t be an assumption that a jurisdictional turf battle was of concern to the commissioners. The CPUC discussed the issues surrounding the project behind closed doors on June 16. It expects to submit comments to FERC the week of June 20. The proposed line ?may indeed provide beneficial additional reliability within Pacific Gas & Electric?s service territory,? the CPUC did note in its FERC filing. The California Independent System Operator also observed the potential for the line to improve the area?s reliability but said last week that the company?s request to FERC was rushed. While CAISO supports the project, it has not completed analyses of alternatives. PG&E also maintains it?s ?too early? to make a decision on the line because the study group looking at ways to address the area?s transmission system has not completed its work. The DC line would run 55 miles and transmit about 400 MW into San Francisco, where transmission lines are constrained by its location on a peninsula.

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