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News Analysis

Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2000

the utilities).

Hunsicker also suggests that generally utilities nationwide have dragged their feet. "The thing that I had to fight early on is utilities saying 'Well, EDI is going to cost me this much.' What I have to say is that it's not EDI or XML or any technology that's costing you to do this. What's costing you is how to extract that data.

"The hardest thing is getting utilities ... who are still monopolies, who still do hold some power with the different commissioners, to force them to do dereg without the high cost involved."

Meanwhile, Ogg does concede that lack of participation also has hurt the process. It's tough to get things done "when you don't have all the parties at the table," she admits.

As a final, and perhaps most important reason, Ogg cites New York's unique situation - the same unique situation to which the New York PSC alluded, albeit from a different perspective. Because most other states implemented EDI prior to, or at least in conjunction with, the advent of retail choice, they were forced to create dates-certain for EDI implementation. New York, on the other hand, being one of the first out of the block in retail choice, started grappling with EDI after it already had implemented retail choice. In that sense, the state had no incentive to move quickly.

"There's less push because there's already choice," Ogg says.

So which standard makes sense to Ogg: X12 or XML? Given the premium marketers are placing on expedience with regard to EDI, Ogg's answer is not surprising.

"I think XML is something people are currently looking at." But "X12 is ready now," she says. Ogg also notes the widely accepted view that when XML is more mature, it can be "placed over" X12, making for a relatively smooth transition when and if a state wants to move in that direction.

In Hunsicker's view, however, XML implementation depends only on getting a jurisdiction or two to take the plunge first. Once that happens, others will follow.

"Once XML is working, it will give the commissioners different options," he says.

With progress being made in the states, on the national standards front, and across the border, Hunsicker believes options are opening up.

"My hope is that the states look at what's available from all the different states or provinces in Canada, and rather than trying to reinvent the wheel again, try to take something that someone started and modify it to meet their state's needs."

And what about Ontario, where XML is slated to be up and running in just 12 months? Some in the industry say that just shows what can be achieved when the various stakeholders actually want deregulation to happen.

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