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Transmission 2000: Can ISOs Iron Out the Seams?

One Market? The Case for Consolidation
Fortnightly Magazine - May 1 2000


Harris says that meeting those standards is important for addressing the seams issues involved with generators trying to locate in New York that may or may not have an impact on PJM operations.

Beyond the Fringe: Open Seams to West and South

Irwin A. "Sonny" Popowsky, the Pennsylvania consumer advocate, says he is concerned with seams issues in Pennsylvania.

"If you look at the map, you will realize that Pennsylvania is cut in half. The utilities in eastern and parts of central and northern Pennsylvania are part of PJM, but we also have major utilities that are not part of PJM who are on the western front," he says.

Although he still has strong concerns about high summer prices and installed capacity issues with PJM, Popowsky notes the ISO has made real progress in terms of governance and encouraging consumer participation. But in western Pennsylvania, there seems to be no progress in establishing a framework for competition.

"There will be an enormous amount of work to get the western utilities into a competitive situation," he says.

Popowsky says the industry needs a better way of coordinating transmission to the west and south of PJM.

Dynegy's Esposito recalls a situation where lack of coordination and communication between PJM and Southern generators resulted in an unplanned curtailment.

"I know for a fact that we had power coming out of Florida last summer to PJM and got cut as a result of TLR. That never got communicated all the way back to Florida. If in fact that was a reliability threat, then you could have a reliability threat as a result of people just not understanding and interpreting the communication," he says.

PJM's Harris says the best way to fix interface problems between the Northeast and the players to the west and south is to remedy the seams issues within the Northeast.

"If the Northeast ISOs represent one-fourth of the Eastern Interconnection, then what has to be done with the rest of the pie is to build RTOs and have shared services," he says.

Mike Apprill, vice president, wholesale marketing in the regulated power supply group at UtiliCorp, says many of the seams issues that the Northeast ISOs are wrestling with are the same in the Midwest.

"The biggest concerns are ... pancaking rates, differences in how the regions are addressing the NERC TLR, and congestion-management issues," he explains.

"We are basically looking at three different regional efforts going on: the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP) regional transmission effort, and the Midwest ISO," says Apprill. "Of course, it appears that MAPP and Midwest ISO will merge."

At this point, Apprill does not see a need for coordination between these three groups and the Northeast on seams issues.

"[The Northeast ISOs] have evolved further in the learning curve. It would help us to look at it and evaluate what they are doing, but I don't think there is a negative impact [from seams issues] that far away," he says.

However, he does see an advantage for the Midwest in learning from