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Electric Industry Issues Forum: Reliability, Transmission and COmpetition

Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 1997

How will it adapt? It will adapt to the changing environment, whatever that is."

Who Moves the Juice?

"Who will maintain the transmission system is whoever will be responsible for the operation of the transmission system. ... There are reliability glitches that are going on now, any time we power marketers get curtailed for any nonemergency reasons. And there's a heck of a lot of curtailment going on right now. There's a lot of curtailment happening on Saturdays and Sundays too. Explain this to me. I don't get it.

"I think we're going to see reliability go up as companies no longer have an interestùI hate to say thisùin not insuring that certain transactions go through. This goes to the whole reason why there is such a pressure for an ISO. Somebody's got to be in there who doesn't have a dog in the fight. To make sure that everybodyÆs transactions get completed. And right now, in every area we've operated, that hasnÆt been the case. There have been numerous situations where our transactions donÆt get completed and the explanations arenÆt quite clear."

ISOs vs. NERC.

"Do we need a reliability czar? No way. We have a reliability FERC.

"I think there is no reason to have much more than [an] East, [a] West and maybe a Midwest connector ISO. I don't see these as lots of itty-bitty things and certainly don't see ten [ISOs] as in NERC regions. I donÆt see the effort of coordination as being intense as it is now ... it takes a lot of infrastructure to support todayÆs system. I think our system is being rationalized. I like this. So I don't think the problem is going to be the NERC-ISO interface or the NERC-gridco interface, because I think they're going to be much more integrated than they are right now."

Deciding when to build new transmission is "a huge issue. I believe that's the ISO's call. I see the ISO as a transitional step. That's the critical thing. ...

"And then this question of, 'Well, who's responsible for expansion?' That only comes when you have a separation of ownership.

"I don't see expansion as a huge issue. I think we're overbuilt on transmission. More bottlenecks than not can be relieved through alternative means than building new wires."

Tagging Electrons.

"Like with poolco, it took me a little while to figure out whether I liked it ... IÆm in that same stage with this proposal.

"I am old enough to have gone through the PURPA fights and I remember when Southern California Edison testified before Congress that our [QFÆs] electrons looked funny and acted funny on the grid. And if Congress let our defective electrons on the grid, it was going to bring down the entire system. ThatÆs in congressional testimony--1978! So I have this real hard time with trying to say you can make electrons look different."

The key issue is ...

for "those who donÆt provide [reliability] to feel the pain."

Response from: Robert F. Wolff Jr. was chief executive of the New England Power