The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has proposed regulations to allow electric utilities to use fuel-cost clauses to recover gains or losses from trading Clean Air Act emission allowances....
EDI Standards: At a Snail's Pace in New York
Someday ratepayers may get bills at light speed. But first regulators must act on electronic data interchange.
"[T]he working group believes that EDI for the retail access market in New York will be achievable on or about April 1, 2000."
So said the "Report of the New York EDI Collaborative," issued in June 1999. But nearly a year had passed and still the Empire State had not formulated its final policy on electronic data interchange, a protocol commonly chosen for organizing and transmitting computer data among utilities, retailers, marketers, and suppliers in restructured electricity markets.
What's holding up the show in New York?
"Although EDI data standards for enrollment and billing were targeted for completion by year-end 1999, little progress toward final data standards has been made since the Report was issued," admitted the New York Public Service Commission in its April 12 order on EDI . In that order, it provided its own explanation for the delays.
One factor the PSC cited was a decline in participation in the working groups as suppliers and vendors in the past year refocused their attention on national, rather than state, initiatives. For example, many participated in the Coalition on Uniform Business Rules, formed in April 1999 to create uniform business practices and corresponding electronic transaction standards (issued in February 2000). Also, the PSC said, those national initiatives "created some uncertainty regarding the future direction of EDI systems because they expand the array of options. ..."
John D'Aloia, power systems operations specialist at the New York PSC, attributes the slowness of the process to several factors. For one, New York has many stakeholders at the table.
"In New York, we have a number of utilities - eight - at this proceeding," he says. In terms of deregulation, that translates into eight different settlements and eight different deregulation schedules, he notes.
And, unlike other states implementing EDI, New York was approaching EDI already having gone through deregulation. "We weren't even thinking about EDI three years ago," he says.
Yet, EDI remains crucial to the whole process of deregulation.
This past spring, for example, the PSC issued an order allowing for single-party billing by competitive suppliers - a decision that drew criticism from New York State Electric & Gas Corp., which filed a petition for review. That proceeding, D'Aloia says, has progressed based on the assumption that EDI standards will be in place. "The expectation is that we're going to do it with EDI," he says.
Certainly, the delay in New York is partly due to the vast array of stakeholder interests, and the need for the PSC to address their concerns. Generally speaking, larger marketers have been pushing for quick implementation of EDI, while utilities have advised a go-slow approach. Meanwhile, a third stakeholder group, small marketers, fears "being put out of business," as D'Aloia says, due to the sheer cost of EDI. The PSC, while asserting in its order that it has encountered no compelling evidence that such a scenario could happen,