On November 18, 2010, FERC denied a request from Puget Sound Energy (Puget) to establish its priority rights to interconnection capacity. In June of this year, Puget filed a petition for declaratory order in which it sought to protect its rights to 1,250 MW of capacity that would serve Phases I through III of the Lower Snake River Project wind farm. Phases IV and V of the Lower Snake River Project would use approximately 580 MW of the lead line's capacity in the future, but the phases would require an additional 28 miles of new conductor. Puget nevertheless sought to protect the lead line's full 1,250 MW of capacity. The lead line is designed to tie the wind farm to the Bonneville Power Administration transmission system, and would be used to transmit the wind farm's power to Puget's native load.
In its filing, Puget asserted that by eliminating the need for later upgrades, constructing the entire interconnection capacity needed by the Lower Snake River Project is environmentally and economically friendly. Also in light of the difficulties in permitting and financing a large wind project, Puget asserted that other wind developers should not permitted to infringe on its rights to the interconnection capacity by its full project. In support of its petition, Puget cited FERC's orders in Milford Wind Corridor and Aero Energy, where FERC granted certain developers priority to interconnection capacity after making the necessary showings.
FERC concluded that Milford and related rulings do not apply to Puget's circumstances, and denied the petition. Instead, FERC ruled that, because Puget is serving its native load and has an OATT on file with FERC, the capacity over its generator lead lines must be governed by the conditions in the OATT. This conclusion was in spite of the fact that Puget transmission function has no part in developing the Lower Snake River Project. As a result of the ruling, Puget may only reserve existing transmission capacity needed for native load growth based on a reasonable forecast over Puget's planning horizon. To the extent such capacity is reserved, the capacity must be made available to open access customers until it is needed. Furthermore, to the extent that any capacity on the lead line is not needed to serve native load growth, Puget must make the capacity available to other transmission customers.