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
RTOs are independent, membership-based, nonprofit organizations designed to ensure reliability of the system. They coordinate generation and transmission across large geographic areas on behalf of their members, matching generation to load on a day-ahead basis and in real time. Western's Upper Great Plains Region is currently negotiating with the Southwest Power Pool to join that RTO and works with several others as neighbors and interested stakeholders. Before joining any RTO, Western would complete a business case to ensure membership is consistent with our statutory obligations and the benefits outweigh costs and also conduct conduct a public process.