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The 1998 Utility Regulators Forum Four States, Eight Views: Looking Back on Deregulation

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

and pushing the concept of direct access. Fanatical is probably too strong a word, but certainly trying to promote that agenda even more fiercely.

"Maybe even more important was to work much more diligently at bringing outside points of view of end use customers outside the classic group of intervenors and stakeholders that are usually involved ¼ particularly for small industrial, small commercial and quite arguably, even some large industrial users. Not the regulatory people, but the people who are involved in the operations and the expansion of some of these businesses."

? Learning From Mistakes.

"There are things we could have done better. However, because of the overarching umbrella of a public process, it's hard to say mistakes were made."

? ISO vs. Transco.

"Would a Transco have been better than an ISO approach? The answer is probably yes, but in the real world, that was probably not in the cards because of the fact of the heated debate at the beginning. To even begin to do this we probably couldn't have been successful putting a Transco model into place. I've got to be careful here because I don't want to slam my utilities or anybody else, but I just think that the political will would probably not have allowed that to happen."

? Interventionist or Free Market?

"I was converted...at first I was against it because I thought over time the market would, as it evolved over time, educate its customers in the appropriate way. But considering we were starting, literally, in this restructuring, from point zero, then it did require government to inform people."

Learning From Others.

"The way we stack ourselves up against other states and whether or not one state has been successful or not, in the regulatory world," is not so important.

"What was the heart of this was to unleash the competitive juices that are there in this economy and the smart people who are involved with creating new innovations and technology who are going to put out new products and services in the long run...like in telecommunications.

"The real judgement of success are the cell phones and the satellites and the PCS applications, fax machines...I argue that's what's going to happen in the electric industry...[especially] when you start talking about Southern California Edison trying to become a telephone company or another small telephone company getting into the electric business."

Plants For Sale.

"I don't think it's a negative whatsoever because you've expanded the portfolio of participation and the number of people in the types of businesses that are involved with generation that is sure to feed the fires of competition and is sure to feed the fires of innovation on how to provide low-cost energy sources."

? Who's Best?

"Of course I'm parochial here, but I think California, by far."

But "there is no wrong answer. We as regulators may use benchmarks to say who's ahead and who's not ahead. What is most important for this country is that the principles of competition are being furthered ¼ it's almost a false comparative."

P. Gregory