Cities and towns interested in gaining access to Utah Power & Light transmission lines will have an opportunity to request it in the near future. The only question is whether they will have to have power contracts in hand.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order allowing UP&L to merge with Pacific Power & Light earlier this year stipulated that for the first time in its history, UP&L will have to make its transmission lines available to non-UP&L customers who are moving power from a contract source to the point of use.The FERC order gives those wanting access a 90-day opportunity to make those desires known. That request period does not begin, however, until FERC accepts the compliance filings of UP&L and PP&L. The compliance notice was rejected in January because FERC had not resolved issues raised by rehearing petitions filed in response to the merger order.

Barbara Connors, FERC spokeswoman, said the commission discussed the rehearing complaints last week and it appears there will be no significant changes to the merger order. She said it appears the rehearing issues will be resolved through clarifications to the order.

Once the rehearing order is issued, probably by the end of March, the companies will have 15 days to refile the original compliance notice or an amended version. Comments will be accepted by FERC for 30 days after the notice is filed.

One of the clarifications likely to come from the rehearing order involves the 90-day access notice period. Connors said the commission will determine criteria for the process that will include whether firm contracts are required or whether cities and towns interested in forming municipal power companies can simply serve notice for the future.