As regulators continue to investigate industrywide restructuring as an answer to regional electric rate disparities and calls from large consumers for price reductions, the trend of dealing with...
Summer's coming. Time for a breather, right? I only wish it were so.
Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its electric "giga-NOPR" on transmission access, stranded investment, and Real-time Information Networks (RINs), the heat is on (em and rising. Congress is busy, too. It's working hard on telecommunications, nuclear waste, and privatization of the federal power marketing agencies, but the odds may be growing against repeal of PURPA (the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act) or PUHCA (the Public Utility Holding Company Act. And now a fax has just come in telling me that the California Public Utilities Commission has formally proposed a modified "PoolCo" model in its Blue Book case. What does it all mean?
Out on the West Coast a couple of weeks back, I spied a t-shirt with this motto: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."
The Strawman Cometh
By the time you read this, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) probably will be hard at work putting together its preliminary comments in the RINs docket. (For more on RINs, take another look at Steve Mitnick's article in our May 15 issue, "RINs: Better Learn this Acronym," p. 37.)
Last month, NERC conducted a series of workshops in Newark, NJ, Dallas, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City to gather comments on its "strawman" document. "Strawman" is a work in progress. It attempts to list the types of information needed to create real-time electronic information networks (EINs) to foster nondiscriminatory open-access transmission. Among the categories included: available transmission capacity, firm and nonfirm capacity, transmission service requests, curtailments, outages, deratings, rates and tariffs, and generating unit run status. (To read "Strawman," dial the NERC's bulletin board at 609-452-7669.)
Being naturally curious on how those workshops were going, I called up consultant Ruben Brown, president of The E Cubed Co. (E3), in New York City, who attended the Newark workshop (the first) on May 15 and agreed to give me his view.
Brown noted that cogenerators (QFs) and independent power producers (IPPs) barely put in an appearance at the Newark workshop. Brown reports that QFs and IPPs combined with power marketers at the workshop to form a single breakout group (dominated by the marketers, according to Brown). But after Brown checked attendance lists for later workshops, he told me that a "significantly greater number" of QFs and IPPs had attended the later workshops in Dallas and Salt Lake City, on May 18 and 22.
Gene Gorzelnik, director of communications at NERC, refutes any notion that NERC ignored QFs or IPPs. He says NERC worked closely with the two major IPP groups (em the Electric Generation Association and the National Independent Energy Producers (em to get the word out. He adds that NERC asked the regional reliability councils to invite their QF or IPP members to attend the workshops.
Brown also notes different perspectives among attendees. The generators (utilities, QFs, IPPs, and so on) wanted information about operation of the transmission grid; the marketers and aggregators cared primarily about market building (em pricing, derivatives, and