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OASIS: Networking on the Grid
Power Pool and the Salt River Project, which also includes Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co.
Ipakchi says AEP is looking at the long run. For his utility, the OASIS stands for more than transmission. AEP is thinking of phase-two activities (em doing more trading over OASIS. The utility also is leaving options open, perhaps to have its own server. "Right now, with the timing of November 1 [since postponed; see above], everybody is basically feeling 'We'll endorse our regional solution, see how it goes,'" Ipakchi says.
AEP has assigned an OASIS operator to respond to queries and has begun defining roles, responsibilities, and processes that come with OASIS. "They have come up with a very elaborate flowcharting of the process by which reservations should go through," Ipakchi says. "And they're automating things, including having an internal e-mail system connected to their response facility so if a transaction has to be processed by a planning department, appropriate notices will be sent and tracked and alarmed."
One utility that has had an operational OASIS since June is PECO Energy Co. Its vendor is National Systems & Research Co. The company created the OmniPath system, also used by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
John McDonald, PECO's transmission management group director, says power marketers and others have been accessing the site since the utility's tariff was posted. Users download it automatically.
"It saved us from sending out a bundle of copies," McDonald says. "It's a cost savings, if you've ever tried to publish these documents and then try to get out and mail them. We probably had over 100 hits on our site just when we published the tariff."
PECO Energy has seven service agreements so far under its tariff. "No one has taken service yet, but we're up there and running," McDonald says.
McDonald doesn't see any security leakage from the OASIS to the back end of the system. He believes there always will be people on phones and faxes in the back room.
"Conditions change each day and someone has to be in charge to make sure we're not going to overload a line," he says. "When you purchased for tomorrow it was fine looking at it today, but overnight, a storm could have gone through and knocked out a line. So now there are certain restrictions. We don't want to create what's happening in the West."
PECO has learned that some browser software doesn't "talk" well with its OASIS. And that for some customers, it takes seconds to download the tariff. For those with slower modems it takes minutes.
To avoid these scenarios, Hoffer thinks transmission providers will opt for more robust interconnections than the Internet provides, possibly a separate "intranet." Others, like Geltz, suggest that users will choose high-speed leased lines, which again, he reminds, may offer implicit competitive advantages, but not advantages inherent to OASIS.
Ipakchi says there are three issues utilities have yet to cover in carrying out OASIS.
OASIS, however, is a solved problem, not a technical challenge, he claims. He sees the