Docket No. ER22-1247-000

I concur with today’s order approving an uncontested settlement between NSTAR Electric Company (NSTAR) and Park City Wind LLC (Park City Wind) (together, Settling Parties).

To read the dissent and the overwrought language in paragraph 9 of this order, one would be forgiven for thinking this settlement is groundbreaking.  It is not.  It is the Settling Parties’ using an established Commission procedure to file an uncontested settlement governing their responsibilities for financing and constructing system upgrades to interconnect a generation project.  As today’s order explains, the settlement assigns responsibilities to only the Settling Parties and assigns cost responsibility to only Park City Wind.

The settlement also reflects an agreement between the Settling Parties that Park City Wind will avail itself of a provision in ISO New England’s tariff by requesting that ISO New England evaluate whether the upgrades will provide system-wide benefits warranting broader cost allocation.  The tariff provision providing for such evaluation could not be clearer. Section 5 of Schedule 11 states:

[I]f the ISO determines that a particular [generator interconnection-related Upgrade] provides benefits to the system as a whole as well as to particular parties, then the cost of such Upgrade shall be allocated in the same way as Reliability Transmission Upgrades.[1]

Some of my colleagues may prefer that this provision not exist because it contemplates that generator interconnection-related upgrades may benefit the transmission system and its customers broadly and warrant an allocation of costs beyond the interconnecting generator.  But regardless of any preference, Section 5 of Schedule 11 is unambiguous and cannot be read out of ISO New England’s tariff.[2]

The upgrades at issue here include, among other things, the upsizing of an already planned new 115 kV transmission line (approved as a reliability project) to 345 kV and a new 345 kV substation.[3]  The Settling Parties posit that the upsizing of the new transmission line may offer benefits beyond Park City Wind’s project because it will “provide[] the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances and various future scenarios, including the high likelihood of significant future offshore wind development interconnection to Cape Cod.”[4]  On this basis the parties have agreed to pursue regionalization of some or all of the upgrades cost,[5] as permitted by ISO New England’s tariff. I do not know if the Settling Parties are correct that benefits will accrue to customers beyond Park City Wind’s project, but this settlement does not put that question before us.

One might read the excess language of paragraph 9 of the order and wonder why the Commission is taking great pain to declare what we are not finding and what the order does not do.  I am less concerned that this conspicuous language is superfluous than I am that it may be misconstrued as a tacit signal of opposition to any regionalization of upgrade costs.  I also worry that what appears to be a near dogmatic opposition among some of my colleagues to an objective examination of the benefits of interconnection-related upgrades (because such examination could lead to costs being allocated beyond the interconnection customer) conflicts with the Commission’s well-established, and court-approved, principle that costs must be allocated at least roughly commensurate with the benefits afforded.[6]  Where ISO New England finds broader benefits of interconnection-related upgrades, allocating costs accordingly is consistent with—and required by—this principle.


For these reasons, I respectfully concur.



[1] ISO New England Inc., Transmission, Markets and Service Tariff, Schedule 11, Schedule 11 Generator Interconnection Related Upgrade Costs (3.0.0).

[2] In his dissent, Commissioner Danly argues that entities that could ultimately be allocated some cost of the upgrades at issue in this proceeding are being deprived of notice.  This is a big stretch.  To the extent any entities other than the Settling Parties are allocated costs, that allocation would stem not from this settlement but from the existing Schedule 11 provision in ISO New England’s tariff that was subject to notice and comment when ISO New England originally filed it and the Commission found it to be just and reasonable.  It cannot be that each provision in a public utility’s tariff must be subject to notice and comment both when the provision is proposed and again each and every time the public utility administers the provision with one or more of its customers.  The Federal Power Act does not compel this result.

[3] Transmittal at 7; Settlement Transmission Support Agreement at 12-13.

[4] Transmittal at 9.

[5] Settlement Transmission Support Agreement at 13.

[6] Ill. Commerce Comm’n v. FERC, 576 F.3d 470, 477 (7th Cir. 2009).  Order    No. 1000, 136 FERC ¶ 61,051 at PP 622, 639 (requiring costs of regional transmission facilities to be allocated in a manner that is at least roughly commensurate with estimated benefits).

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