An interview with Ralph Masiello
and Sue Scott of ABB
The big, traditional projects in automated meter reading have really stalled, because utilities are no longer assured of a...
our expressed goal. We have achieved that, so, yes, we got what we asked for. But, again, unbundling and electric restructuring are far from being finished.
For one thing, California is the first state to implement such extensive unbundling services as a key means of implementing direct access. This hasn't been without controversy. In 1998, we'll find out which other states have the backbone to participate in the creation of a new industry instead of protecting the status quo.
Also, when we began this process, many of us understood it as an adjustment (em albeit a big one (em to the electric services industry, one that changed the rules for utilities, but didn't change the fundamental vision of what electric energy service was. The more we look into these issues, the more answers we find that further challenge assumptions about the "way things are supposed to be". Now, we are coming to believe that this is the beginning of the end of the entire electric services industry as we know it (em or as we are capable of recognizing it. Whether the UDCs are the "center of the universe" may not be a very interesting question if the universe we know changes into something else fundamentally different.
BWR: Has the vision been achieved?
AM: We are far from finished with metering, much less electric restructuring, but the ORA Joint Parties have clearly taken the high ground in this proceeding. We could quibble with the PUC's judgment in certain details of implementation, but we also recognize that part of their job is to mitigate the impacts of change for stakeholders. The PUC did adopt our proposal to embark upon a deliberate migration from UDC-based "standards" to national standards.
The Permanent Standards Working Group established by the PUC will provide a mechanism to review available national standards for adoption as law by the state of California, much as local governments review and adopt periodic editions of the uniform building codes. There will always be room to adjust national standards for the real situations faced by various locales, but the market for electric services is just too big to be defined by the provincial concerns of 50 different states. Having established in the California record and policy the principles of interoperability, open architecture, and national standards, reasonable details will surely follow in good time.
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