A. As set forth in § 56-577, each incumbent electric utility owning, operating, controlling, or having an entitlement to transmission capacity shall join or establish a regional transmission entity, which hereafter may be referred to as “RTE,” to which such utility shall transfer the management and control of its transmission assets, subject to the following:
1. No such incumbent electric utility shall transfer to any person any ownership or control of, or any responsibility to operate, any portion of any transmission system located in the Commonwealth prior to July 1, 2004, and without obtaining, following notice and hearing, the prior approval of the Commission, as hereinafter provided. However, each incumbent electric utility shall file an application for approval pursuant to this section by July 1, 2003, and shall transfer management and control of its transmission assets to a regional transmission entity by January 1, 2005, subject to Commission approval as provided in this section.
2. The Commission shall develop rules and regulations under which any such incumbent electric utility owning, operating, controlling, or having an entitlement to transmission capacity within the Commonwealth, may transfer all or part of such control, ownership or responsibility to an RTE, upon such terms and conditions that the Commission determines will:
(1. Practices for the reliable planning, operating, maintaining, and upgrading of the transmission systems and any necessary additions thereto; and
(2. Policies for the pricing and access for service over such systems that are safe, reliable, efficient, not unduly discriminatory and consistent with the orderly development of competition in the Commonwealth;
b. Be consistent with lawful requirements of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;
c. Be effectuated on terms that fairly compensate the transferor;
d. Generally promote the public interest, and are consistent with (i) ensuring that consumers’ needs for economic and reliable transmission are met and (ii) meeting the transmission needs of electric generation suppliers both within and without this Commonwealth, including those that do not own, operate, control or have an entitlement to transmission capacity.
B. The Commission shall also adopt rules and regulations, with appropriate public input, establishing elements of regional transmission entity structures essential to the public interest, which elements shall be applied by the Commission in determining whether to authorize transfer of ownership or control from an incumbent electric utility to a regional transmission entity.
C. The Commission shall, to the fullest extent permitted under federal law, participate in any and all proceedings concerning regional transmission entities furnishing transmission services within the Commonwealth, before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Such participation may include such intervention as is permitted state utility regulators under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rules and procedures.
D. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to abrogate or modify:
1. The Commission’s authority over transmission line or facility construction, enlargement or acquisition within this Commonwealth, as set forth in Chapter 10.1 (§ 56-265.1 et seq.) of this title;
2. The laws of this Commonwealth concerning the exercise of the right of eminent domain by a public service corporation pursuant to the provisions of Article 5 (§ 56-257 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of this title; or
3. The Commission’s authority over retail electric energy sold to retail customers within the Commonwealth by licensed suppliers of electric service, including necessary reserve requirements, all as specified in § 56-587.
E. For purposes of this section, transmission capacity shall not include capacity that is primarily operated in a distribution function, as determined by the Commission, taking into consideration any binding federal precedents.
F. Any request to the Commission for approval of such transfer of ownership or control of or responsibility for transmission facilities shall include a study of the comparative costs and benefits thereof, which study shall analyze the economic effects of the transfer on consumers, including the effects of transmission congestion costs. The Commission may approve such a transfer if it finds, after notice and hearing, that the transfer satisfies the conditions contained in this section.
G. The Commission shall report annually to the Commission on Electric Utility Regulation its assessment of the practices and policies of the RTE. Such report shall set forth actions taken by the Commission regarding requests for the approval of any transfer of ownership or control of transmission facilities to an RTE, including a description of the economic effects of such proposed transfers on consumers.
1999, c. 411; 2001, c. 576; 2003, cc. 885, 990; 2007, cc. 888, 933; 2008, c. 883.