Appeals court rejects rehearing bid on FERC transmission order

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Federal judges rejected a request Friday from nonprofit electric utilities to reconsider the ruling upholding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000, a landmark rule aimed at spurring upgrades to the electric grid.

The Large Public Power Council had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reconsider its August ruling that upheld Order 1000 in its entirety.

Order 1000 is among FERC’s largest and most complex rulemakings. It calls for regional coordination in grid planning and for abolishing an incumbent utility’s “right of first refusal” to build a new project, among other reforms.

Virtually every aspect of the order was challenged at the D.C. Circuit. That the three-judge panel upheld the rule was a major victory for FERC (Greenwire, Aug. 15).

The Large Public Power Council sought rehearing en banc, meaning before all of the D.C. Circuit’s 11 judges.

The council took issue with the court upholding FERC’s “unprecedented determination” that provides a way for developers to secure funding for transmission projects from utilities “with whom they have no business relationship and to whom they do not provide service.”

That framework, they contend, could force a utility’s customer to pay for electricity generation from a wind farm that never reaches his or her house, for example (Greenwire, Oct. 1).

As is customary, the court didn’t explain why it rejected the rehearing request.