From our colleague and FERC guru, Jason Johns:
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today rejected the Midwest ISO’s proposed Market Coordination Service that would have given certain transmission owners access to the ISO energy and operating reserve markets without requiring those owners to hand over control of facilities or share in transmission development costs. Although the proposal was an innovative approach to expanding the ISO’s market footprint, FERC worried that the proposal would harm consumers and cause the ISO to unravel as transmission owners opt out of full membership to avoid transmission cost-sharing. FERC also questioned whether the proposal would attract more wind energy into the ISO market because, by leaving pancaked transmission rates intact, wind resources could face higher transmission rates as ISO members withdraw in favor of Market Service. The Midwest ISO must remove all Market Service language from its tariff within the next 30 days.
In other news, FERC accepted a request for waiver of criteria traditionally used to evaluate merchant transmission projects. In their applications, the Zephyr and Chinook merchant transmission projects proposed to presubscribe 50% of the projects’ 3,000 MW capacity to an “anchor tenant” wind developer in order to defray upfront development costs, and then allocate the remaining 50% through a traditional open season process. The proposal was intended to avoid the “chicken-and-egg” scenario often associated with merchant transmission, i.e.,resources will not develop without assurances that transmission is available, and likewise transmission projects will not move forward without assurances from resource developers. FERC’s acceptance of this modified approach to merchant transmission expressly opened the door to similar proposals in the future. “Anchor tenant” merchant transmission is the new standard.