It’s been a decade since Xcel Energy was beaten back on their attempt to start a transmission only company, TRANSLink. For that docket, go to PUC DOCKET SEARCH and look for Docket 02-2152. There’s a lot of interesting information there, like:
|1518435||PUBLIC||02-2152||PA||TRANSLINK DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, MINNESOTA CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY, IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE OF AMERICA, MINNESOTANS FOR AN ENERGY EFFICIENT ECONOMY, AND NORTH AMERICAN WATER OFFICE||OTHER–SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT||06/24/2003|
And now they’re wanting to do it again, and since the 2005 transmission bill, they can, it was authorized by the Minnesota legislature in 2005.Here’s their presentation to “investors” from Dec. 4th:
Recently in the STrib:
Stand-alone transmission companies are becoming more common in the electric utility industry because the federal government has encouraged them as a way to boost competition and reduce costs on big multistate power line projects.
Xcel, based in Minneapolis, traditionally has built power lines on its own or in partnership with other utilities. But it plans to create a stand-alone transmission company in 2014 as a potential vehicle to develop $650 million in power lines in and near its Texas and New Mexico service areas.
Xcel projected overall 2014 capital expenditures of $2.9 billion and five-year capital expenditures of $14.1 billion. Transmission investments are expected to be nearly $1 billion in each of the next three years, Mogensen said.
But a new class of utility — focused solely on transmission lines — has emerged to compete for multi-state transmission projects. The financial terms of these projects typically are regulated by a federal agency rather than state utility commissions.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has promoted more competition in multi-state transmission projects, has for several years allowed utilities higher rates of return compared with levels typically approved by state regulators for such investments. That’s one reason creating a stand-alone transmission company can be an attractive business proposition for utilities.
In 2002, American Transmission Co., based in Waukesha, Wis., was created as the nation’s first stand-alone transmission company, and now has $3.3 billion in assets. It is owned mostly by Wisconsin utilities, including municipal and cooperative power companies; Duluth-based Allete Inc., parent of Minnesota Power, has an 8 percent stake.
“If we are going to be in the game, a transco is something you need to have, so you are on an even keel,” Fowke said. “We don’t want to not have that vehicle if it turns out to be a competitive advantage.”
Jim Fama, vice president of energy delivery for the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group, said regional grid operators such as MISO, the grid operator for 15 states including Minnesota, are seeing various proposals from such transmission companies for power line projects.
Mogensen said in an interview that Xcel’s transmission company will mainly be a vehicle for developing and financing projects, and will rely on existing Xcel Energy employees, whose work for the unit would be charged back to it. The two initial projects being considered under the new entity are transmission lines serving new oil and gas fields in Texas and New Mexico.
She said it’s unclear whether Xcel’s new transmission subsidiary will try to build power lines elsewhere. State laws in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, three of the eight states where Xcel operates, discourage competitive transmission projects. Xcel supported passage of those competition-limiting measures.