Feds reject Duke transmission plan

news@lakewyliepilot.comFebruary 22, 2013 

Federal regulators have rejected Duke Energy’s proposal for a regional transmission plan that could increase access to North Carolina by independent energy developers.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling Thursday was based on its 2011 directive that utilities develop regional plans and cost-sharing for new transmission systems, which connect power plants to local users.

FERC rejected Duke’s argument that a regional plan Duke and Progress Energy created in 2005, supplemented by the addition of Alcoa Power Generating’s small system east of Charlotte, fulfilled the federal mandate.

Duke argued that, despite its 2012 merger with Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Carolinas have separate territories and transmission systems in North Carolina.

The N.C. Utilities Commission endorsed that view.

New York-based LS Power, which develops transmission systems to connect to renewable-energy projects, objected. LS said the Duke proposal would “lack the openness to allow new entrants to compete in the region with new transmission projects and ideas,” FERC wrote.

The federal commission also rejected Duke’s proposal.

It noted that Duke Carolinas and Progress Carolinas answer to the same senior managers and directors, and quoted merger filings that say the new Duke would operate as a single company.

Adding Alcoa to a regional plan would serve little purpose, the commission wrote, because it serves only one hydroelectric plant and 21 miles of transmission lines.

“At best, a transmission planning region comprised of a single transmission provider creates a perception that only the views of that … provider will be further considered in the regional transmission planning process,” it wrote in rejecting Duke’s plan.

FERC gave Duke 90 days to submit a new plan.

Duke is reviewing the commission’s order, spokesman David Scanzoni said.

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