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News Digest

Fortnightly Magazine - April 1 2000

largest ever to be installed on a home with existing utility power in the Rocky Mountain region. The system, owned by Jack Rickard, includes a battery bank that provides emergency backup power features and was designed to meet a major portion of the electric needs typically required by his 6,000-square-foot Morrison home and family of eight. Altair installed the system.

Convergent Group Corp . has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of $115 million of its common stock, including an over-allotment option from the company and certain selling shareholders. Convergent Group is a provider of professional services that enable its utility and local government clients to implement Internet-based eBusiness solutions.

Transmission & ISOs

New England ISO. The Competitive Power Coalition, comprised of eight generating companies representing the majority of the installed capacity in New England, said on Feb. 10 that the New England ISO was misapplying market rules, creating serious implementation problems.

Earlier, on Feb. 7, Coalition members had met individually with the commissioners at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to elaborate on concerns set out in a complaint filed with the FERC on Feb. 1. .

Coalition members say they are willing to explore an alternative power exchange because "NEPOOL is dysfunctional." The Coalition on Jan. 21 released a white paper explaining perceived problems with the ISO and potential solutions. It is available from the Coalition at 617-248-9772.

RTO Rule Redux. On rehearing the FERC largely reaffirmed its final rule issued Dec. 20 (Order 2000) governing regional transmission organizations (RTOs), but issued clarifications on three points: (1) the definition of the term "market participant" and whether parties meeting that definition are viewed as providing transmission service to an RTO, (2) audits to ensure compliance with tests for independent governance, and (3) the extent to which RTO proposals must document outreach efforts to include cooperatively owned utilities as members.

In particular, the revised rule explains that a firm that functions as a pure transmission company and provides transmission service to an RTO should not be considered a market participant. That change was designed to ensure that independent transmission companies (transcos) can satisfy all legal tests under the RTO rule, yet the FERC cautioned that the change should not imply that a pure transmission company will never affect the governance of an ISO, or preclude the FERC from considering on a case-by-case basis whether a transco meets the independence standard.

Moreover, the FERC reiterated that an independent transco cannot own or operate generation, even if only to serve a non-competitive transmission function, without stepping over the line as a market participant (unless such generation supplies ancillary services of last resort, which is a required function of an RTO). .

ComEd ITC . The FERC granted partial approval of the petition filed by Commonwealth Edison Co., IES Utilities, Interstate Power, and MidAmerican Energy to form an independent transmission company (ITC) that would function as a so-called "binary RTO," holding primary operational authority, but remaining nested within the structure of the Midwest Independent System Operator, which