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Electric Restructuring: Before, During and After

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1999

in Illinois?

I don't know that there is one point in time. I think you have to measure yourself as you go along. I would think certainly with customer choice we can make value judgements probably quarterly or every six months as to how we are doing. But right now we are not structured to make that evaluation. I think we will be shortly. But we have to be able to monitor competitive aspects of what is occurring in our state. Public utilities commissions, including ours, are not well structured to do that as yet.

State vs. federal restructuring?

I think that that [struggle] is intrinsic in the form of government that we have and that [it] is not going to go away. The view from the Potomac is much different than the view from Bloomington, Ill. What is good on Pennsylvania Avenue is not necessarily going to be appropriate for Ogden Avenue in Illinois or Interstate 55, but there is a rule for both.

What has been most rewarding about being chairman?

The next expectation.

I would hope that commissions across the country would critically analyze their roles. If there is a reward, it is to make our regulation more relevant to today's customer and we are certainly not there yet.

Would the commission's role as a policymaker affect staff size?

It should change the whole viewpoint of commissioners from viewing discrete issues, one at a time, [vs.] viewing an entire scenario and seeing where the commission and the public interest dictates that the form of monopolistic entities go and how competition is best for the public interest. ¼ I don't think that is what we have now.

I was in the insurance business. In Illinois we have 1,400 insurance companies competing and there is a market-monitoring aspect to state government in the insurance area, and there should be in the utility area, as well. If not, then the legislature could abolish commissions because they won't be relevant.

You cannot have changes in the basic structure of utilities and not have changes in the regulatory bodies. [End of Mathias interview]

Alan R. Schriber, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. Electric restructuring legislation was passed in july in ohio.

Is the FERC intruding in Ohio's restructuring work through the RTO plans and Alliance RTO evaluation?

It will not affect our effort to restructure. It will affect how successful the end result is when we actually begin our transition, which will be Jan. 1, 2001.

How so?

To the extent that we don't have a significantly active, liquid market regionally, we are not going to have a successful local retail market within Ohio.

How will things fall between the Midwest ISO and the Alliance RTO?

You never know [how it will be] by Jan. 1, 2001. I hate to make forecasts, though I am an economist. It wouldn't surprise me if they were blended along the way because there are a lot of good reasons for them to be. It would not surprise me to see that happen. If the FERC