U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, both Kansas Republicans, want the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its rejection of a plan to relieve the burden on Kansas consumers for cost of transmission facilities moving wind-generated electricity to other states in the Southwest Power Pool. (Jill Hummels for the Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — U.S. Sens. Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran of Kansas are objecting to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to reverse its approval of a plan to more equitably distribute electricity transmission facility costs from heavy wind-producing states such as Kansas to other member states in the Southwest Power Pool.
“It is FERC’s statutory obligation to make sure costs are allocated in a manner that is roughly commensurate with the benefits received,” Moran said. “I urge the commission to work with stakeholders to create a reasonable cost allocation plan that does not overburden Kansas ratepayers.”
The federal regulatory commission had agreed in October 2022 to permit the multi-state power pool to address unfair division of the cost for transferring electricity from zones with vast amounts of generation, including the wind-rich state of Kansas, to consumers in other SPP states. The reform was crafted to relieve the burden on Kansans paying two-thirds of transmission facility costs for power beneficial to customers in the 15-state SPP.
In July, FERC reversed that earlier decision in response to complaints from Southwestern Electric Power, Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company as well as city utilities in Springfield and Kansas City, Missouri. Based on this secondary review, FERC unanimously agreed the cost-sharing plan gave SPP’s board too much leeway in deciding whether to implement a more regional approach to allocation of transmission costs.
Moran and Marshall released a letter Wednesday sent to FERC calling for reinstatement of the ruling favorable to Kansas energy customers who have been compelled to subsidize energy usage in neighboring states.
The senators’ letter to members of the federal commission highlighted development of the robust wind industry in Kansas and what the GOP lawmakers viewed as unfairness of regulations requiring families and businesses in Kansas to pay inflated costs of moving electricity on the grid.
Marshall said the flip-flop by FERC rubbed salt in the wound of Kansans who had to deal with inflationary economic pressures.
“Kansas ratepayers are being penalized by bureaucrats in Washington for providing critical energy resources across the country,” Marshall said. “The current framework is unfair. Kansans should not have to subsidize energy costs for neighboring states. It’s that simple.”
He said FERC should appreciate the inequity of requiring Kansans to pay unreasonably high transmission rates for facilities that benefitted the entire multi-state SPP.
FERC commissioner Mark Christie, an appointee of President Donald Trump, said SPP’s strategy for distributing transmission costs among member states lacked consensus.
“At least four states were on record as opposing SPP’s proposal,” Christie said. “Should SPP seek to file another version of its cost allocation for these types of projects, it is my hope that any such new cost allocation will earn the support of all states to which costs could be allocated.”
Kansas has ranked among the top U.S. states in terms of the level of wind energy generation and annual growth of wind capacity.
The SPP is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to development of a reliable power supply, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale prices for member states. SPP oversees the bulk electric grid and wholesale power market on behalf of utilities and transmission companies in 15 states.
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