An undersea power line between Puerto Rico and the mainland United States could be built without placing the island’s grid under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission jurisdiction, the agency said in a decision issued Friday.
FERC, however, noted in its general finding that any future jurisdictional decisions would depend on the specifics of projects it is asked to review.
The decision could affect Alternative Transmission’s roughly $6 billion Project Equity, which aims to deliver 2.1 GW to Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that falls outside FERC jurisdiction because it doesn’t engage in interstate electricity sales.
The company in December asked FERC to declare that ordering interconnection and transmission service under the Federal Power Act’s sections 210 and 211 would not affect existing jurisdictional boundaries.
In its decision, FERC noted it wasn’t ruling on Alternative Transmission’s specific project.
“Upon receipt of valid applications under sections 210 and/or 211, the commission could issue orders pursuant to those sections of the FPA allowing interconnection and/or transmission of energy between Puerto Rico and the interstate transmission system while retaining the jurisdictional status quo such that Puerto Rico’s electric utilities would not be ‘public utilities’ under section 201(e) of the FPA,” FERC said in the decision.
During FERC’s monthly meeting Thursday, Acting Chairman Willie Phillips said the order should not be read to make electric utilities in Puerto Rico or in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint “public utilities” under the FPA. ERCOT, which is largely separate from the U.S. grid, falls outside FERC jurisdiction.
The order doesn’t enter into any jurisdictional issues where the commission has historically “stayed in its lane,” Phillips said. “We remain committed to that.”