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News Analysis

Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2000

as early as this summer, Hunsicker says, and the platform will be fully operational come the first of the year.

"I believe once the states see how XML will be successful in Canada, then they have a track record [and can say] 'OK, EDI works, XML works - which one do we want to now use?'"

Fact is, work remains to be done in the standards realm in the United States, whether at the state or national level. In addition to progress made through such organizations as UIG and the Coalition for Uniform Business Rules, the Gas Industry Standards Board is taking a leadership role. Hunsicker, incidentally, is chairing an XML committee at GISB.

With each state doing its own thing, isn't it difficult and costly for a vendor like Excelergy to retool for each state? That's the nature of the business, says Hunsicker.

"It basically comes with the territory. You have to build into your software for different intelligence."

In the long run, Hunsicker sees more potential for XML than for EDI. "The benefit that I see in XML is that once you tool for XML, it's a lot easier retooling for another state using XML than [those that] use X12s. XML doesn't have as many 'what ifs.' XML gives you a lot more flexibility than X12 does."

National Efforts: Stealing the Initiative?

Attorney Joelle Ogg of John & Hengerer, who represented Reliant Energy Retail Inc. in New York's EDI proceedings, puts her best spin on the happenings in New York.

"I think it's good the commission came out with an order." Although that fact is encouraging, Ogg says, she notes that there is still no date-certain for implementation of a standard. Some worry that the target of "early 2000" could be pushed back even further.

The other encouraging sign from the PSC, Ogg says, is that the commission has begun to recognize the flurry of activity at the national level. But what about the PSC's contention that the national standards movement itself has delayed the New York proceeding?

"I don't believe that's the case," she says flatly.

She does acknowledge that "marketers have all but dropped off" in their participation in the proceeding, but that has nothing to do with some new focus on national standards, she says. Marketers have dropped out of participation, Ogg says, partly because the effort has taken so long, causing many stakeholders to question New York's commitment to EDI.

"Marketers have to figure out where to spend their resources," she says. According to Ogg, Reliant stopped participating for that reason "some time last summer."Although she says that New York since has shown its commitment to EDI and that Reliant continues to monitor proceedings in the state, it has not returned to the table; instead, the large marketer chooses to focus on national standards.

So if the delays in New York don't stem from the diversion of efforts to national standards, what's taking so long? Ogg cites a few factors, one being that there has been some resistance to EDI among the participating parties (read: from