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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved rate incentives for a major transmission project in the West that will deliver up to 3,000 MW of capacity from location-constrained renewable resources to distant load centers. Separately, FERC conditionally approved rate incentives for a $1.4 billion transmission project in Maine that will increase reliability and capacity to export power to southern New England.

"Today's actions underscore the continued need for investment in the nation's power grid in many regions of the country," says FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher. "The projects that we grant incentives for today are both large-scale transmission projects that will provide major regional benefits."

The first project, known as the Energy Gateway Transmission Expansion Project, is sponsored by PacifiCorp, who asked FERC for a 2.5% adder to its base return on equity (ROE) and recovery of prudently incurred abandonment costs for the $6 billion project. FERC granted PacifiCorp a 2% adder to its base ROE. The project involves eight segments covering portions of Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming and is planned to go online between 2010 and 2014.

FERC also granted Central Maine Power Co.'s petition for transmission incentives for its Maine Power Reliability Program Project, subject to the condition that ISO New England include the project in its regional system plan as a reliability transmission upgrade.

The planned project consists of 245 miles of new 345 kV transmission line and 74 miles of new 115 kV transmission line, 10 miles of rebuilt 345 kV transmission line, 155 miles of rebuilt 115 kV transmission line and additional improvements.

FERC granted Central Maine a 1.25% ROE adder rather than the 1.5% that was requested, and conditioned the utility's proposal to recover 100% of construction-work-in-progress (CWIP) in rate base on Central Maine filing for CWIP in a future rate filing. FERC also granted Central Maine's request for recovery of 100% of prudently incurred costs associated with abandonment, provided that the abandonment is a result of factors beyond the utility's control.

SOURCE: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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