FERC last week took the first step towards developing a broadregional transmission organization (RTO) in the southeasternsection of the nation.

The Commission granted RTO status to GridSouth, a for-profittransmission company that includes the transmission facilities ofthree utilities in two states (North and South Carolina), but itordered the GridSouth members to begin discussions with othercompanies in the region – such as the Southern Company ServicesInc. and Santee Cooper – to create a much broader RTO in theSoutheast [RT01-74].

In a separate yet related order, FERC rejected the SouthernCompany’s request for a declaratory order to form its ownfor-profit grid company, and directed it to consider joining aneighboring RTO in the region – such as GridSouth [RT01-77].Southern “should take seriously our suggestion,” said CommissionerLinda Breathitt.

The scope and configuration of GridSouth are “not ideal,” but itrepresents a “good first step” towards creating a larger RTO in theSoutheast, she noted. The order emphasizes that GridSouth mustcontinue to expand in the region by attracting new members. Itscurrent members include Carolina Power & Light, Duke EnergyCorp. and South Carolina Electric & Gas.

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

Chairman Curt Hebert said he envisions GridSouth as “perhaps ananchor [RTO] for the Southeast.” He further noted he will “expectand insist” that future meetings between GridSouth and Southern beheld in “good faith” with the intention of creating a largerSoutheast RTO.

Susan Parker

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