Western works with many regulating entities within the electrical industry to meet industry standards and guidelines. These entities include:
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Although the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does not have jurisdiction over Western for most purposes, Western is a transmitting utility subject to FERC jurisdiction under section 211 of the Federal Power Act. However, because Western is a major transmission system owner and provides wholesale electricity across the West, we voluntarily choose to follow many FERC rules.
FERC does have final authority over Western’s rates not as a matter of law, but by virtue of a delegation order signed by the Secretary of Energy. The Commission may confirm, approve and place the final rate in effect, reject it or send it back to Western for further study. In addition, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 has expanded FERC's authority over Western. The Act gives FERC increased authority to issue rules governing how market price information is published, to obtain market price and availability information from any market participant, including Western, and to publish rules prohibiting market manipulation. In addition, the Act allows FERC to order Western to provide comparable open access and transmisison service under terms that are not discriminatory or show preference. It also grants FERC refund authority over Western under section 206 of the Federal Power Act to achieve a just rate if Western makes a voluntary short-term sale of electric energy through an organized market. The Act further expands FERC's jurisdiction over Western by requiring Western to comply with certain filing and notice provisions defined in the Federal Power Act.
FERC's review of Western's rates is much more limited than the manner in which it regulates Investor Owned Utilities. FERC reviews Westerns rates to ensure that they are adequate to cover Westerns costs and may reject Western’s decisions only if it finds they are arbitrary, capricious or in violation of law or regulation. Western's Administrator develops a final proposed rate, which is then sent to the Deputy Secretary of Energy to confirm, approve and either placed into effect on an interim basis or proceed directly to FERC for final approval. Next, the rate is sent to FERC. FERC may then confirm, approve and place the final rate in effect, reject it or send it back to Western for further study.
North American Electric Reliability Council
Western is a member of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council and the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool, two of 10 reliability councils of the North American Electric Reliability Council. Western dispatchers also operate Western's system under NERC operating criteria. Each system dispatcher must pass a test to become NERC certified. Dispatchers within the Western Interconnection must also be WECC certified.
Regional Transmission Organizations
Regional Transmission Organizations are a regulatory initiative of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to encourage independent regional management of transmission. Transmission-owning utilities regulated by FERC have been encouraged to turn over operational control of their facilities to independent third-party transmission operators. Western does not currently belong to any RTOs but participates in RTO formation discussions in our service territory, including the Midwest Independent System Operator and West Connect RTO. Western would join an RTO only if consistent with our statutory obligations, if the benefits outweigh costs and after conducting an environmental review and public process.