This article was written by law firm Troutman Sanders LLC.
On June 16, 2011, FERC denied the appeals of Cedar Creek Wind Energy, LLC (“Cedar Creek”) and Milford Wind Corridor Phase I, LLC (“Milford”) because the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (“WECC”) registered both wind facilities as transmission owners and operators, subjecting the facilities to mandatory reliability standards. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) determined that WECC properly designated Cedar Creek and Milford Wind as transmission owners (“TO”) and transmission operators (“TOP”), and both Cedar Creek and Milford appealed the decisions with FERC in separate dockets (see November 12, 2010 edition of the WER). The Commission decided both cases in one order.
In denying both appeals, FERC determined that NERC properly applied fact-specific analyses similar to that was used in a prior New Harquahala case. For Cedar Creek, FERC first determined that their tie-line is material to the Bulk-Power System with reliability impacts, and Cedar Creek does own and have operational control over one end of the tie-line, specifically the switching of the tie-line. Further, Cedar Creek has to coordinate their equipment Public Service Company of Colorado, and Cedar Creek’s operation of that equipment could have impacts beyond the generating facility and tie-line.
For the Milford facility, FERC also determined that Milford owns and operates all equipment at one end of the tie-line. Specifically, Milford controls 345 kV circuit breakers, 345 kV transmission line equipment, and protective relays. Thus, Milford’s tie-line is also required to coordinate in order to avoid events such as a fault that could cause loss of facilities, like those connected with the Intermountain Switchyard.
The Commission also defended the designation of Milford as TO and TOP because a study said the facility should be included in a special protection system. A special protection system is a system used to maintain system stability, acceptable voltage, or power flows, and proper operation of a special protection system is needed to keep the system from exceeding system operating limits or interconnection reliability operating limits. Thus, FERC said Milford being a special protection system in WECC could have wide area impacts on the region with improper coordination. FERC also took issue with Milford relying on a 2008 study, and the Commission said a three-year old study is not persuasive.
FERC said that if either Cedar Creek or Milford were not required to comply with reliability standards there will be several reliability gaps in:
- Coordination of protection systems,
- Operations and operating credentials, and
- Restoration, development, and communications of system operating limits.
At a minimum, FERC decided that Cedar Creek and Milford must comply with the following standards:
- PRC-001-1, Requirements R2, R2.2, R4,
- PRC-004-1 Requirement R1,
- TOP-004-2, Requirements R6, R6.1, R6.2, R6.3, R6.4,
- PER-003-1, Requirements R1, R1.1, R1.2,
- FAC-003-1, Requirements R1, R2,
- TOP-001, Requirement R1 and
- FAC-014-2, Requirement R2.
Both wind facilities could negotiate further with NERC/WECC as to whether any other reliability standards should apply, so FERC directed both entities and NERC to submit for Commission review a list of TO and TOP standards that should apply to each facility based on the facts of each case.
Troutman Sanders LLC
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