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News Analysis

Fortnightly Magazine - May 15 2000

Later, on April 17, the PUC itself petitioned the Nevada District Court to dismiss the federal suit. The PUC claims the federal courts should have no jurisdiction in the matter.

Odd Man Out

The odd man out in Nevada now appears to be the Mountain West ISA.

Mountain West is viewed as a transitional organization; it is slated for a three-year life to serve as a bridge between retail access in Nevada and the formation of a qualified regional transmission organization to run the Nevada grid. It won authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this year, and estimates that it needs about $16 million to operate for three years. However, it has no guaranteed source of long-term funding, and in fact may be forced to conduct a new solicitation for a software vendor, since its prior selection of Automated Power Exchange was conducted by a temporary stakeholder board, which some say tainted the impartiality of the process. (See News Digest, April 15, 2000, p. 14.)

At an April 12 PUC meeting it was recommended that Sierra Pacific should loan Mountain West the money it will need to keep going. Commissioner Richard McIntire then asked a Sierra Pacific representative whether the utility would transfer control of transmission lines to the ISA. The answer: "We don't know."

Would Mountain West continue operations without retail choice in Nevada?

Michael Alcantar, chairman of the board of the Mountain West ISA, told the Fortnightly on April 21 that the ISA had no intention to intervene in Sierra Pacific's lawsuit. However, Alcantar admitted that if the court should find the state's restructuring plan to be unconstitutional, then "an organization like the Mountain West ISA would not be necessary." Yet he said the ISA would not shut down, but would proceed to implement an open access market.

Will the governor's gamble pay off? He claims that he only intended to facilitate discussions at the failed summit meetings and has not taken sides. But beware a politician who knows too much. In fact, Guinn is the former president and then chairman of the board of Southwest Gas Corp.

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