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OASIS: Networking on the Grid

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1996

with OASIS systems say, few are prepared to easily calculate ATC or TTC. Scheduling and billing transmission also hasn't been at the top of providers' lists.

What about security boundaries? As the systems mature, and transmission providers try to squeeze more human interaction out of their back-end routing schemes, will OASIS and its linked processing systems miss transmission requests? Will lawsuits result?

Until technology takes over transmission control room flowcharts and spreadsheets, utilities worry about increased workloads and OASIS traffic. A few observers speculate that the traffic could prompt users and providers to lease high-speed 56 kilobit, T1, or even T3 phone lines to connect their locations.

Finally, there's the issue of competitive advantage. If power marketers and utilities accessing transmission providers' OASIS retrieve information at different speeds (em over a T3 line versus a 28.8 baud modem, say (em is there inherent advantage? (Order 889 says companies can subscribe to higher bandwidth at their cost.)

Answers to these questions come from people like Peterson, whose company, in late August, was embroiled in what must be the most ambitious OASIS project (em an effort that cuts across six NERC (North American Electric Reliability Council) regions. Meanwhile, utilities working with other vendors have built stand-alone solutions, entering service earlier to learn. Most of these vendors have a long track record of working on energy management systems. They offer more answers (em and new questions.

Startups: Too Little Time

The ambitious OASIS project, called the Joint Transmission Services Information Network (JTSIN), unites 250 member companies that control about 40 percent of U.S. transmission-line mileage. Members of JTSIN include the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL), East-Central Area Reliability Coordinate Agreement (ECAR), Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP), Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Mid-American Interconnect Network (MAIN), and Virginia/ Carolinas Reliability Council (VACAR).

JTSIN's OASIS endeavor contrasts with that of the Western Systems Coordinating Council (WSCC), a "quagmire of people trying to decide what the heck to do," says Jeff Geltz, information services manager of New England Power Co. and JTSIN

co-chair.

Geltz says JTSIN is getting feedback from large marketing organizations, independent power producers, public power, and the FERC. "Other people have been to vendors, trying to wade through 889 to figure it out alone," he says. JTSIN's approach saves money and wins on consistency: "The industry in aggregate would have spent a ton of money if they had all gone off in their own directions and tried to develop their own OASIS programs. Not only that, they would have ended up with the Tower of Babel syndrome they have in the natural gas industry with everyone developing their own bulletin board."

Geltz wouldn't disclose the JTSIN system's cost. But he does offer one observation: "The utility industry in the United States will certainly spend several million trying to get to November 1. There's no question about that."

JTSIN's OASIS offers members a common look and feel and one log-on security system. Everything is "equalized" to ensure against competitive advantage. For example, there's no "default choice" for someone requesting capacity; users must search the directory for a