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Trump to Appoint Two to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Sale of 230 kV system requires approval by FERC

 

PAHRUMP, Nev. (May 9, 2017) – President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday announced his intent to nominate two members to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Once approved by the Senate, the additions to the commission will clear the way for FERC to approve the sale of Valley Electric Association's 230 kilovolt (kV) transmission system to GridLianace Holdco, LP 

After the sale closes, VEA members will receive checks for $579 as their part of the sale’s premium followed by the largest patronage capital retirement in the Cooperative's 52-year history.

"This is great news for VEA and our members," said VEA CEO Thomas H. Husted. "Once these appointments are confirmed, FERC will have a quorum and will be in the position to conduct important energy related business."

Trump has selected as FERC commissioners Neil Chatterjee of Kentucky and Robert F. Powelson of Pennsylvania.

Chatterjee is the energy policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Over the years, he has played an integral role in the passage of major energy, highway, and farm legislation.  

Powelson has served on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission since 2008.  Currently, Commissioner Powelson serves as the President of National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) based in Washington, DC. Powelson serves on the Electric Power Research Institute Advisory Board (EPRI) as well as the Drexel University Board of Trustees. 

FERC Chairman Norman Bay resigned in late January, leaving only two members of the five-member commission. Without a quorum, FERC cannot make final decisions on most issues, including the sale of part of VEA's transmission system to GridLiance.

VEA's Board of Directors approved the sale of the 230 kV transmission lines in December 2016 following an overwhelming approval by the Cooperative's member-owners. More than two-thirds of the membership approved the sale.

As part of the sales agreement, VEA will continue to operate, maintain and manage the 230 kV transmission assets. Valley Electric is the first and only non-California member of the California Independent System Operator system.

Valley Electric’s 230 kilovolt transmission system through Clark and Nye counties was built between 1995 and 2013. The 164 miles of transmission lines run north and south out of Pahrump, connecting the VEA system to the regional transmission grid. The system was an entirely self-funded project that established critical redundancy, or backup service, to electric users so they would not have to face brownouts or blackouts that plague other areas of the nation.

The system, which cost approximately $90 million to construct and took 20 years to complete, dramatically increased in value after VEA joined the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in 2013. Membership in the CAISO placed the system in the California market and under CAISO’s regional tariff. In addition to optimizing the 230 kV transmission system economically, joining CAISO created enhanced opportunities for renewable generation in VEA’s service territory.

While building the system created much-needed reliability for VEA, the cost of ownership (debt service, operation, maintenance and depreciation) is high. As the demand for renewable energy resources in California continue to increase so has the value of VEA's high-voltage system, which is now part of the California service area. 

The VEA Board of Directors agreed to roll back rates by 9.9 percent on Jan. 1, 2017, in anticipation of the sale to GridLiance.  

 

About Valley Electric Association, Inc.

Valley Electric Association, Inc. (VEA) is a member-owned nonprofit electric utility headquartered in Pahrump, Nev. While VEA started as a small rural electric utility in 1965, the company now provides electric service to more than 45,000 people within a vast 6,800-square-mile service area located primarily along the California-Nevada border, with the majority in Nevada. Valley Communications Association (VCA), a wholly owned subsidiary of VEA, began proving high-speed communications to our member-owners in the spring of 2016. VEA’s service area starts in Sandy Valley, southwest of Las Vegas, and extends north for more than 250 miles to Fish Lake Valley. For more information about VEA, please visit www.vea.coop.



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