Electric Power Transmission:

Federal Role in System Use and Regulation

RCED-88-98: Published: Apr 12, 1988. Publicly Released: May 12, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the nature and extent of federal efforts to resolve dispute cases concerning electric power transmission systems access, facilities, and services, focusing on the role of the: (1) Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); (2) Federal Power Commission, its predecessor; and (3) federal courts.

GAO found that, of 40 cases involving transmission disputes filed between 1935 and 1987: (1) the commissions made 62 decisions on 31 cases, while the federal courts made 13 decisions on 9 cases; (2) 56 percent originated from the north-central and southeastern regions of the country; (3) 72 percent involved requests for wheeling, or third-party transmission; and (4) the most frequently raised issues included actual or constructive denial of transmission services or anticompetitive or discriminatory practices. GAO also found that the commission: (1) granted 15 requests for transmission services, denied 19 requests for such services, reached a compromise on 10 requests, and approved 18 settlements; (2) granted 13 percent and denied 33 percent of wheeling requests; (3) granted 70 percent and denied 10 percent of interconnection service requests; (4) increased the number of compromises and settlements after enactment of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978; and (5) typically referred to Section 205 or 206 of the Federal Power Act, as well as other legislative citation categories. In addition, GAO found that federal: (1) district courts granted four and denied nine requests for transmission services, and denied 73 percent of the wheeling requests; and (2) appellate courts upheld 16 of 27 appealed decisions.

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