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Frontlines

Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1997

initiatives could slow down the restructuring process.

"Tightening the Shoestrings"

You may ask, "How can someone take a stand against electric reliability?" Well, here's what I heard over the phone the other day from one of those new, untraditional industry players, who requested anonymity:

"The industry forefathers are really tightening up the shoestrings on how business is being done. But they're lost focus on the overall picture, which is to reduce the cost of electricity.

"The meetings are open, but there are so many meetings and working groups and acronyms that only a multi-billion dollar company can afford the time to attend and participate in all these meetings. Who's going to pay for all of this?

"The costs should be going down, but instead they're going up.

"NERC has been involved in reliability for a long time. Now NERC wants to put tags on energy transactions to know where the power is going. Now they're saying that you have to tell them who you're going to buy energy from and where are you going to deliver it. And it you send the power to another marketer, then NERC wants to know what they are going to do with it.

"If the FERC sits by and lets all this go through, then it's ludicrous. We're cementing market power.

"NERC is using marketer participation in these committees to be able to say that participation is open, but it's just a ploy. They use your name, but it's just a figurehead. You can given suggestions, and they take your suggestions. But then they 'back-room' it and then say that there is a consensus.

"They take advantage of the IPP's and the marketers. They are using political techniques that the folks in Washington, D.C., have used for decades.

"And who's suffering? Is the cost of electricity dropping? Heck no.

"Maybe we need the politicians to get in here and deal with the politicians. Maybe we need Congress to get into this. We have a system now where the foxes are in charge. And the FERC has found an easy way out (em they're letting NERC and EPRI run things.

"So NERC and EPRI are going forward, leading the charge, putting the industry in knots. From my perspective we're just firming up market power here.

"IPP's and marketers don't have the resources to attend all these working groups and meetings. But NERC has utilities with groups of employees attending meeting all week. IPPs and marketers can't go to all these meetings. We've got a job to do. We've got to get back to the office and trade some electricity."

When I called Eugene Gorzelnik, NERC's communications director, to ask him about the NERC's proposals for scheduling and tagging, he assured me that Nevius was not announcing new policy when he appeared at NARUC's winter meetings.

"What Dave Nevius said was no different than what NERC [decided] at the Trustees' meeting in January," Gorzelnik explained.

"System operators must be able to follow the transactions that are going on so that [they] know what transactions they can interrupt. For