Entergy's Eternal Power Struggle: MISO Move Decades in the Making

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 12:00 am  

Years of controversy and litigation have led to Entergy Corp. joining a regional transmission operator, which manages Entergy’s power lines, and selling the lines themselves to a third party, ITC Holdings Corp. 

Further controversy occurred when the Arkansas Public Service Commission released a set of conditions MISO would need to meet before the move was approved. When MISO filed its reply to the conditions, and the APSC approved of them, SPP didn’t agree.

“It’s always been SPP’s position that the MISO governance procedure wasn’t consistent with condition 13 of the commission’s order this summer,” said Skinner, the utilities lawyer. He has represented SPP in the past.

Essentially, condition 13 requires MISO to give state commissions leverage over its decisions, something Skinner said the Arkansas PSC already had over SPP. When MISO filed its initial response to the conditions, its agreement didn’t quite meet that condition, Skinner said. MISO called for more of an equal authority between the operator and the state commissions.

“It didn’t look to me, independently, that the filing really addresses what the commission wanted in 13,” Skinner said.

SPP filed a complaint before the APSC, but it was rejected. MISO received its last state-level clearance this month. Southwest Power Pool could appeal again, but that doesn’t seem likely. Neither Entergy nor MISO nor the APSC is worried about any further snags in the move.

“Thirty days after the order, the petition for rehearing has to be filed before an appeal can be pursued,” said John Bethel, executive director of the Arkansas PSC. The APSC’s order was filed on Oct. 26.

“But the commission found in its order that Entergy and MISO had sufficiently satisfied its concerns about governance.”

“We feel like we came and did as much as we could in cooperation and coordination of the two parties,” MISO’s Hillman said.

There is still room for opposition to the move at the federal level.

“As a practical matter, I don’t think that there’s a whole lot more that can be done to stop this thing,” Skinner said. “My sense of this thing is that the Arkansas commission found substantial compliance with the conditions imposed on the [move to MISO], and along with the fact that several other adjacent states approved of the proposed [move] … I suspect that FERC would be hard pressed to step back now and say, ‘Oops.’”

SPP may not walk away.

“We really believed that for Entergy and for ratepayers it was better to join SPP,” Monroe said, noting that there still “may be actions taken in order to protect ratepayers and utilities” in the SPP footprint.



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