AriSEIA Submits Letter to Line Siting Opposing Requirement of System Impact Studies to Obtain a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility
Line Siting Committee
Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2996
RE: Obed Meadows CEC, Docket No. L-21254A-23-0184-00222
Chairman and Committee Members,
The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) submits this letter in opposition to requiring a System Impact Study (SIS) in advance of obtaining a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC). The legal briefs of the applicant, Arizona Public Service (APS), and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) all agree that such a requirement is outside the authority of the Line Siting Committee. Further, such a requirement would needlessly delay gen-tie applications. The legislature via HB 2496 and the Commission via dockets RLS-00000A-23-0251 and ALS-00000A-22-0320 and the Governor’s Office via signature of HB 2496, have all indicated that the goal of the State of Arizona is to expedite these renewable energy projects, not add additional bureaucratic hurdles and delay. The Line Siting Committee has been issuing CECs without SISs and it is not clear why that would need to change now.
Testimony in this case, as well as the legal brief of APS, make clear that the absence of a SIS is not the fault of the applicant. There is a backlog of these studies, which is outside the control of renewable energy developers. Transmission Providers throughout the state of Arizona, including the state’s two largest utilities: APS and Salt River Project (SRP), are currently working through significant queue reforms to address interconnection backlogs. Proposed queue reforms will materially impact the timeline of interconnection studies, the requirements for projects to enter and stay in the interconnection queue, and the commercial expectations of projects when bidding into Request for Proposals (RFPs). Such queue reform is expected to introduce withdrawal penalties that will fundamentally change the way a project is developed, creating a new model whereby a project is incentivized to first acquire all its permits (including a CEC), obtain off-take, and then enter the interconnection queue. Having a SIS prior to filing for a CEC would be counter to the intent of queue reform, and a third-party power flow study would be expensive and redundant to already required utility interconnection studies. While the timeline around queue reform implementation is uncertain, FERC Order 2023 indicates an effective date is likely by the end of 2023 or in early 2024.
AriSEIA strongly advocates that the Line Siting Committee adhere to the purpose and intent of the Line Siting statute (A.R.S. 40-360.06); its prior decisions on applications that did not have a SIS; the clear intent of the legislature, Governor’s Office, and Commission to reduce Line Siting delay; and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) queue reform process and not require a SIS prior to obtaining a CEC. A requirement to have a SIS may have unintended consequences that limit the ability for projects to reach operations in a timely manner.
/s/ Autumn T. Johnson
Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Re: In the Matter of the Five-Year Review of the Rules of Practice and Procedure before the Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee, Arizona Administrative Code Title 14, Chapter 3, Article 2, Docket No. ALS-00000A-23-0063
Chairman and Commissioners,
We appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on changes to the Line Siting rules. Below you can find our joint recommendations regarding changes to R14-3-201 through 220.
We Recommend Changes to All Requirements to File Written Copies of Documents and/or Mail Documents.
Numerous provisions of the rules require filing hard copies of documents and/or mailing documents. We recommended that all of these sections be updated to permit electronic filing and to remove all requirements to file any print copies. If for some reason a print copy is required, such as an exhibit that may not lend itself well to a print version, only one print copy should be required. Further, service should be permissible via electronic means and should not require mailing.
R14-3-217 may be entirely unnecessary given this change.
We Recommend Updating Outdated Language.
There is no reason that the presiding officer should be presumed to be male. The language should be updated to remove personal pronouns. If this is not possible, alternating pronouns or using something like “s/he” or another generic term would be suitable.
Recordings of the Proceedings Should Also be Available on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s “Live” Page for Streaming and for Archived Recordings.
All Line Siting proceedings, including meetings and hearings, should be available to watch from the Commission’s “Live” page and a recording of all meetings and proceedings should also be available as an archived video on the same page. We recommend creating a tab for “Line Siting” on the archive portion of the webpage.
The Rules Should Allow That Hearings Be Held at State Buildings Other Than the Capitol and That Notice Should Be Provided Electronically.
R14-3-208(B)(2) says hearings can be held at the State Capitol in Phoenix. We recommend an option to hold the hearing in Phoenix, but think the Commission and other state buildings should also be an option for hearings. Further, public notice should be provided by means other than filing in the newspaper. Direct outreach to residents within a specific vicinity should be provided, as well as electronic notice via social media, email, radio, etc. should be utilized.
The Rule Should Expressly Allow Intervenors to Issue Data Requests.
R14-3-211 should be updated to expressly indicate that intervening parties may issue data requests, along with the response time for responses.
We Recommend Requiring That a Free Read-Only Version of the Transcript Be Provided to all Intervenors and the Public.
Procedural orders for Line Siting already require applicants to provide a read only copy of the hearing transcript to be publicly available on the applicant’s website. R14-3-212 should be updated to reflect this and the transcript should also be available on the Commission’s website, not just the applicant’s website.
We Recommend “Days” be Clarified as Calendar or Business Days.
R14-3-215 should clearly specify if the Committee is using business days or calendar days to calculate deadlines or time periods provided under the rules, as well as what happens if the final day falls on a non-business day.
We Recommend Ex Parte Communications Be Treated More Seriously.
R14-3-220(D) should be updated to require disclosure of any ex parte communications received by a member of the Committee, as well as a requirement to recuse oneself, should the Member have initiated or responded to the ex parte communication with anything other than a notice that such communication was prohibited.
Thank you for considering our recommendations to this important update to the Line Siting rules.
Sierra Club Environmental Law Program
Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA)
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