New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

LCG, December 4, 2019--The last operating coal-fired power plant in New York is moving toward closure shortly. Last month, Somerset Operating Company, a subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, submitted a request to the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state's required, 180-day notice to close the Somerset Station, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020. Closure is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which will evaluate if it will cause an adverse effect on grid reliability.

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Industry News

California Transmission Upgrades Stalled

LCG, September 14, 2004--Plans to upgrade transmission capacity from wind farms in the Tehachapi and Antelope Valley area to California load centers must now clear a new funding hurdle, as the Court of Appeal of the State of California has annulled a California Public Utilities (CPUC) ruling that would have required Southern California Edison (SCE) to pay the upfront cost for the upgrade.

The current capacity of the wind farms in the area is about 600 MW, with up to 1,100 MW of additional wind projects planned, according to the California ISO. In late July, the California ISO approved the plan to construct the 25-mile transmission line, which is estimated to cost $94 million. The upgrade would be a key grid improvement to enable California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to be met. The RPS requires 20 percent of the energy the Investor-Owned Utilities deliver to their customers to come from renewable resources by the year 2017.

The CPUC, in its Interim Opinion and Order Denying Rehearing, took the position that, per California Public Utilites Code section 399.25, the State could require utilities to pay the upfront costs of system upgrades necessary to connect new sources of renewable energy to the grid and roll-in the costs to ratepayers. With this policy, the financial risk associated with the $94 million upgrade would be transferred to the utility ratepayers. Under the current Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy, the generator would fund the upgrades and receive a monthly credit back, with interest, over time. The Court of Appeal ruled that the CPUC's interpretation is preempted by federal law, thus the financial burden cannot simply be placed on the back of SCE and its ratepayers.

The value of the transmission capacity will be more transparent after the California ISO implements locational marginal pricing (LMP), which is planned for February 2007.

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