FERC Sets Stage for Broad RTO in Southeast

FERC last week took the first step towards developing a broad regional transmission organization (RTO) in the southeastern section of the nation.

The Commission granted RTO status to GridSouth, a for-profit transmission company that includes the transmission facilities of three utilities in two states (North and South Carolina), but it ordered the GridSouth members to begin discussions with other companies in the region - such as the Southern Company Services Inc. and Santee Cooper - to create a much broader RTO in the Southeast [RT01-74].

In a separate yet related order, FERC rejected the Southern Company's request for a declaratory order to form its own for-profit grid company, and directed it to consider joining a neighboring RTO in the region - such as GridSouth [RT01-77]. Southern "should take seriously our suggestion," said Commissioner Linda Breathitt.

The scope and configuration of GridSouth are "not ideal," but it represents a "good first step" towards creating a larger RTO in the Southeast, she noted. The order emphasizes that GridSouth must continue to expand in the region by attracting new members. Its current members include Carolina Power & Light, Duke Energy Corp. and South Carolina Electric & Gas.

Commissioner William Massey said he would have preferred for FERC to have withheld grid status from GridSouth as well, and ordered GridSouth and Southern to participate in a settlement conference to form a single RTO for the Southeast.

Chairman Curt Hebert said he envisions GridSouth as "perhaps an anchor [RTO] for the Southeast." He further noted he will "expect and insist" that future meetings between GridSouth and Southern be held in "good faith" with the intention of creating a larger Southeast RTO.

Susan Parker

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