The price tag nationwide will reach into the billions of dollars, said Robert Mitchell, Trans-Elect's executive vice president.
So far, architects of the new system haven't come up with a clear plan for persuading investors to pony up those billions.
That's where the Path 15 project could establish an important precedent.Mitchell of Trans-Elect, which aims to become the largest transmission owner in the nation, termed Path 15 "the poster child" for advocates of transmission expansion.
Earlier efforts to upgrade Path 15 were derailed as shifting coalitions of regulators, utilities, municipal power systems and federal agencies failed to coalesce around plans and financing arrangements.
The current controversy centers on FERC's decision to allow Trans-Elect
to take extra profits from the project.Backers said premium profits, which would ultimately come out of the pockets of electricity users, are needed in order to reassure investors and lenders.Trans-Elect
got the go-ahead to collect a profit equal to 13.5 percent of its investment and operating costs.
...Mitchell of Trans-Elect declined to comment on that estimate but pointed instead to an ISO study that concluded the project would likely pay for itself in four years.
That study supported the project as a way to prevent gouging by power-plant owners.
said, ratepayers would hardly notice the higher transmission costs after they were spread out among all the state's electricity users.The Path 15 upgrade will be "quite insignificant as an overall impact" on rates, he
But the PUC worried that the FERC
might be heading in a dangerous direction."The implication that transmission projects henceforth will be built only if rate premiums are available portends ill for the future," the PUC said in a filing.
predicted smooth sailing for the project."We do not believe there is a jurisdictional issue as it relates to Path 15," he
said.Because Path 15 expansion was authorized by Congress in the 1980s, he
added, "it really is not within (the PUC's) jurisdiction to (decide) that the project can go forward or not go forward."
And no matter what the judge decides, the PUC
will side with Trans-Elect
said."I've met with a majority of the PUC, who represent that view," he