The Public Utility Commission of Texas held an open meeting on February 25 to take up a number of electric and water related agenda items. Items below are in the order they were taken up by the PUC. A recording of this meeting and its agenda can be found here.
This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.
Agenda items 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 22, 31, 32, and 33 were taken up and approved without discussion
Agenda Item 17
Project No. 51841 – Review of 16 TAC § 25.53 Relating to Electric Service Emergency Operations Plans. (Proposal for Adoption)
- McAdams – Compliment staff on the comprehensiveness of this rule and safeguards that will deal with any potential threats.
- Cobos – Thankful for signing of SB 3
- Lake – Can staff accommodate training or a workshop?
- PUC Staff – Yes, an informal workshop with entities on how we interpret the rule to help them on their compliance path
- Lake – How quickly can you file notice?
- PUC Staff – As early as this afternoon
Agenda Item 20
Project No. 52312 – Review of Administrative Penalty Authority. (Proposal for Adoption)
- McAdams – It’s simple and I appreciate that.
- Lake – We’ve already utilized this new authority, I want to thank participants who were proactive during the winter; I appreciate your effort and not using this rule.
- Motion to adopt, passes
Agenda Item 25
Project No. 53191 – Reorganization of 25.505. (Proposal for Publication)
- McAdams – This is a great first step to help the commission in organizing the structure for stakeholders.
- Glotfelty – I appreciate that the report from ERCOT includes costs.
- PUC Staff – Request for stakeholders to save substantive policy ideas for other dockets.
- Motion to approve, passes
Agenda Item 1
Docket No. 50404 – Petition of Sterling Deason O’Donnell And Darwin Deason, CoTrustees of the Sterling Deason O’Donnell DD 2012 Trust under Agreement of the DD 2014-B Grantor Retained Annuity Trust To Amend Marilee Special Utility District’s Certificate of Convenience and Necessity in Collin County by Expedited Release. (Motion for Rehearing)
- Cobos – We’re granting a hearing to make the order consistent with commission rules.
- McAdams – I applaud the clean-up and I think the efficiency makes our lives and that of staff’s easier.
- Motion to grant re-hearing to modify for consistency in language, passes
Agenda Item 8
Docket No. 50065 – Complaint of Doug and Linda Crosson, Bo and Trish Lebo, and Bruce and Ann Ahlhorn Against Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Final Order)
State Representative Erin Zwiener
- Issue brought to my attention in late 2019
- The move of the electric transmission line is entirely voluntary
- Homeowners in a specific neighborhood haven’t had any say in this process
- Location is on private property, but homeowners haven’t had opportunity to voice concerns
- This will set a dangerous precedent for all routing cases
- Request Pedernales Electric Cooperative Inc to require to amend Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) to allow affected parties due process
Doug Crosson, Driftwood Resident
- Opposes rerouting of transmission line to 200 feet from the house and up the hill instead of where it currently is at 90 feet
- Member of Pedernales Electric Cooperative but they haven’t amended CCN
- Solely to accommodate desires of the golf course people
- Request for transmission line not moving until Pedernales has conducted a full CCN process and gotten input from community
- McAdams – If you were to draw a line on policy, what requires a CCN process?
- The law talks about a routine activities exception to routing/re-routing lines, if that was so Pedernales wouldn’t list it as a major project; They must follow the process.
Bo Lebo, Driftwood Resident
- Discovery Land Development said burying the lines would be the best choice
- As soon as they move the lines, the value of the property will go down
Linda Crawson, PEC Member
- Not allow high voltage transmission line or at minimum require them to follow CCN process
- Moving the line is not necessary and will only benefit developer with increased profits
- Neighbors have not been treated fairly
- PEC elected to file a motion without reaching out to neighbors
Bryan Tolga, Driftwood Resident
- Chose the Rimrock neighborhood because transmission lines were buried and so protected landscape
- July 2019 PEC gave a notification without due process; simply an ad hoc process and they said it would be completed by December
- Had interaction with Discovery project president and PEC in February 2021 but in the summer they went radio silent
- Conducted a memorandum but no action
Chris Richards, Attorney
- The line has already been drawn, 300 feet within a structure
- If no one had complained, PEC would have been paid by Discovery to relocate the line
- If you don’t grant them a complaint and allow them to relocate within 300 feet, then the developer would do that to other properties
Evan Johnson, Attorney for PEC
- Received relocation request in 2018
- Acted as middleman in 2019-20
- We see this as a private dispute
- Got a PFD said there’s no exception for proximity
- 2021 – offered to suspend proceeding for longer to allow landowners to settle dispute
- 2022 – they said they were going to move forward
- PEC agrees with PFD
- Glotfelty – Is there a reliability impact for moving this line?
- Not that I’m aware of, this was paid for by a private landowner; All we’re doing is serving as a middleman, we’ll do whatever you tell us to do
- Glotfelty – Have you looked at reliability impacts?
- I don’t know the cost impact of the system, but all costs will be paid for by private landowner.
- Glotfelty – This exception allows you to not talk to your members?
- Over last 4 years, we’ve had many conversations with landowners; we suspended the ruling on the PFD for a whole year
- Glotfelty – Have you had public meetings?
- We have had meetings with the landowners and talked thoroughly about impacts. We want everyone to be happy.
- Cobos – Has PEC attempted to visit with other landowners apart from those present today?
- Everyone was informed of this and they have the freedom to complain
- Cobos – How about burying the line?
- Would cost a lot more; Driftwood continues to consider that and want to move the project forward whether above or below ground
Kourtnee Junks, PUC Staff Attorney
- Agrees with PFD
- McAdams – We would have to reopen rulemaking and unwind precedent to satisfy complainants?
- PUC Staff – I only offer that as an option
- Lake – This is a gray area within CCN rule; it’s a tough one, I’m encouraged by the prospect of continuing engineering studies
- Cobos – According to the rule, routing activities don’t require a CCN and strict reading would provide for no amendment but we are in a rapidly growing state.
- Cobos cont. – We have to find a way to strike a balance between economic development and property rights
- The facts aren’t in dispute
- There are no issues in material fact
- Under existing rule, there’s a pathway for this developer to pay for the land
- We’d be granting an exception to an exemption
- Glotfelty – As a former transmission developer, I would lean to require a CCN proceeding on this.
- Glotfelty cont. – The due process is important to allow everyone to have a comment
- We’re going to face this issue more as rural areas become more crowded
- One person cannot impose their will and hurt the will of others without due process
- PEC is not the bystander because they have the power to do something
- I would put it back on them to find the solution
- McAdams – How much do we throw an impediment up to growth in an area?
- Glotfelty – It’s likely a CCN process would go fairly quickly.
- Cobos – If we’re going to set a threshold to require CCN amendment, I think that’s right to
- McAdams – It’s case by case.
- Lake – Or never ending amendments
- Glotfelty – There’s a bigger issue involved and if we have the right to provide an opportunity for CCN then we should.
- Lake – The rule written is focused on routine and no other landowners. We don’t want to burden normal business operations with endless CCN amendments but we have to be considerate when this impacts homes.
- Glotfelty – While landowner has agreed to pay for the utilities, I would question if they agreed to pay for market impacts when the line is out of service
- Cobos – How do you quantify reliability impacts?
- Lake – It probably depends on the day, we need to take time to digest this discussion; Several folks mentioned promising resettling situations; I would encourage all parties involved including PEC to engage in settlement discussion
- PUC Staff – Perhaps it would be helpful to hear facts from PEC and others, request them to make a file including engineering and underground studies; I think you need a fuller picture
- Lake – Could you think about what that order would look like?
- PUC Staff – Yes, and if PEC attorney could stay afterwards to speak with me.
- Evan Johnson – We’d be happy to lay that out.
- Lake – I would ask you engage with residents to talk about next actions. We’ll table this item for discussion at a future meeting.
Agenda Item 9
Docket No. 51415; SOAH Docket No. 473-21-0538 – Application of Southwestern Electric Power Company for Authority to Change Rates. (Motion for Rehearing)
- Motion to extend time, motion passes
Agenda Item 10
Docket No. 51912 – Application of AEP Texas Inc. to Amend its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the Angstrom-to-Grissom Double-Circuit 345-kV Transmission Line in Bee, Refugio, and San Patricio Counties. (Final Order)
- Memorandum with proposed changes
- Lake – We’ve heard extensive oral argument and these are never easy
- McAdams – AEP initial recommendation was compelling, especially the positive effect on windfarm
- McAdams – We know the tracks are sensitive for landowners; from a cost perspective and a conforming route that tried to parallel, route L is shortest and cheapest
- Glotfelty – I’m happy with route G which is not one that is in our discussion, crossing smaller tracts of land is a challenge and longer ones would cut down on cost; if there’s no impact on windfarm operations, I want to find an easier route
- Cobos – I looked at other routes like L and M because they avoid bisecting where landowners live even though they’ll impact windfarms; I lean towards L to avoid landowner property and get more cost savings; I’m fine with PFD in N but if we are to deviate, I would go with L
- Lake – Given the variety of opinions, I’d like the change to investigate G further
- Glotfelty – I think more information on G is warranted because I don’t know the impact on the windfarm
- Lake – This is a priority for ERCOT, so we need to move quickly
- Glotfelty – I’d like to request information about routing impacts for Burk Hollow property
- AEP Staff – We would be glad to provide you what we can if the parties are willing to agree to more information
- Cobos – All the information for routes L and M are in the record
- AEP Staff – Correct
- When we route, we get information from the windfarms as far as length of their blades and turbulence. Segments can be routed across in a safe manner
- This is not about the windfarms against each other
- You’re not considering impact on O’Connor and Edwards properties
- There is not one criterion that makes route T superior to N
- We filed to address issue across Edwards’ property
- Route M affects property in the same way that N does
- There is no evidence of impact
- Cobos – Which routes do you support?
- AEP’s route T but we think the next best alternatives are L and M and we would support those over N; on the northern portion, G is the same as L and M
- Taking a look at route G, one important historical fact is that Burk Hollow offered an ISR of 6.85 mileage but what doomed it was cost
- Consider 19, 25, 28, and 30 for Burk Hollow to take the line on their fence line
- We opposed route N; we liked Z and Z mod because they don’t touch any houses
- Let’s do what we can to avoid all crossings
- There are people in the South who are being ignored, please take them into consideration
- Lake – We’ll table this item until our next open meeting
Agenda Item 11
Docket No. 51957 – Agreed Notice of Violation and Settlement Agreement Relating to Southwestern Public Service Company’s Violation of PURA § 38.005 and 16 TAC § 25.52 Concerning Reliability and Continuity of Service. (Final Order)
- Cobos – I was fine with the proposed order
- McAdams – As was I
- Motion to approve, motion passes
Agenda Item 21
Project No. 52373 – Review of Wholesale Electric Market Design. (Discussion and possible action)
- Cobos – ERCOT filed the information we requested regarding comparison with other ISO’s on firm curel products and standards. Want ERCOT to attend the next open meeting. Want draft RFP prepared on end of March.
- Cobos cont. – Request for ERCOT to walk us through the survey results at the next meeting
- They were able to find out that ERCOT is the first ISO/RTO in the country to have a firm fuel market product. Expressed surprise that other markets do not have this.
- McAdams – Gratifying so much onsite right now. We now have a ballpark idea of what we’re dealing with and have a good sense of what’s out there.
- Lake –
- Generators were proactive to build out firm fuel capabilities. I appreciate those efforts which show the responses to SB 3 and we’ve seen the benefits this winter.
Agenda Item 29
Discussion and possible action on electric reliability; electric market development; power-to-choose website; ERCOT oversight; transmission planning, construction, and cost recovery in areas outside of ERCOT; and electric reliability standards and organizations arising under federal law.
- Lake – Hoped for an aggressive timeline of adoption but given expansive stakeholder discussion we must be more deliberate about that. Let’s run through the process for them and I ask stakeholders submit written comments so all perspectives are clearly laid out. There will be a workshop. Submit written comments so everything is clearly laid out. Comprehensive and deliverative.
- McAdams – I fully support your memo in taking a detailed look given broad scope of stakeholder feedback.
- McAdams cont. – 1092 raises other considerations that ERCOT should look at..
- Yesterday we saw extraordinary volatility despite adequate reserves available. May have been because of price adders.
- Request stakeholders to see that all of this is harmonized
- We want to make sure we’re paying adequately for what we get but we don’t want to overpay.
- I look forward to watching the workshop.
- Cobos – I agree with your memo because of the extensive stakeholder feedback. Heard the TAC discussion. It’s important that we don’t move hastily. No unintended consequences. Perhaps we should let the wrinkles be ironed out later. Understand the IMM wants to address market manipulation issues. Will move forward with an NPRR. $75 price floor is too low. Not convinced the the RUC opt out should be eliminated.
- Glotfelty – I’m looking forward to reviewing the comments.
- Lake – We have moved quickly. We need to be wary of the unintended consequences of taking swift action. Driected to do so and done it but must be vigilant and balance market’s ability to generate revenue (compared to )consumer costs.
Agenda Item 35
Project No. 43518 – Delegation of Authority Generally to Docket Management. (Discussion and possible action)
- Lake – This will streamline a process for making decisions
- Motion to approve, passes