Although problems in the power business grabbed the headlines early this decade, the industry now seems fundamentally strong. In contrast to their ratings of banks, rating agencies appear to have...
unveiled proposed legislation on Dec. 13 that, if passed, would allow any of Virginia's 12 electric cooperatives to vote for self-regulation, thereby removing their operations from the jurisdiction of the Virginia Corporation Commission. The Virginia legislature gave that right to the state's telephone cooperatives in a law passed in 1998.-L.A.B.
Transmission & ISOs
Midwest Defections. Like a "spooked herd," a group of six transmission-owning electric utilities asked permission from the FERC on Dec. 19 to withdraw from the Midwest Independent System Operator, noting other utilities had said they intended to leave also, a fact that would bifurcate MISO into two noncontiguous halves and render the ISO "deficient" under FERC standards of scope and configuration. And just three days later, ComEd filed its application to quit. But Dynegy, which had asked FERC back in October for permission to leave, continued to face heavy opposition.
- The group of six (Central Illinois Light, Cinergy, Hoosier Energy, So. Illinois Power Co-op, So. Indiana Gas & Electric, and Wabash Valley Power) said it would be "impossible" for MISO to operate without the three initial proposed defectors (Ameren also had threatened to quit), because of (1) an absence of physical interconnection among all member systems, (2) removal of crucial regional flowgates from ISO control, and (3) the impact of parallel flows between systems under the control of MISO and the proposed Alliance RTO.
- Meanwhile, a municipal utility group led by Wisconsin Public Power Inc. continued to fight to save MISO, protesting that neither Dynegy nor ComEd had fulfilled the contractual prerequisite for withdrawal-namely, changed ownership of transmission facilities. "A single pistol shot by the commission can halt this regrettable stampede," said attorney Cynthia Bogorad, of Spiegel & McDiarmid, stating the case for saving MISO. "But the shot must be heard soon."
- According to Bogorad, the Dynegy and ComEd proposals "spooked the herd." She claimed that in the last two months of 2000, "MISO has gone from being a vital FERC-approved ISO-one having a merger agreement with MAPP, good prospects of attracting additional membership in Michigan, Canada, and the Southwest Power Pool, substantial physical infrastructure under construction (near Indianapolis), a growing staff, one $100 million bond issuance floated and [another] pending-to an organization on the edge of a cliff." .-B.W.R.
Grid Management Charge. The FERC suspended the new proposed unbundled grid management charge proposed by the California ISO to recover its administrative and operating costs, citing a likelihood that the rates might be discriminatory. .-B.W.R.
Interregional Coordination. Four key players in electric policy-Enron, ELCON, EPSA, and Dynegy-plus a fifth, Reliant Energy, together asked the FERC to convene a technical conference to provide guidance on interregional coordination between regional transmission organizations (RTOs), to focus on such "seams" issues as congestion management, generation interconnection, and ancillary services, plus
- Protocols, emergency procedures, curtailment, market closing times.
- Ramp rates, definition of proxy buses, etc.
- Rate reciprocity, wheeling-in and wheeling-out.
- Calculation of ATC (Available Transmission Capacity), TTC (Total Transmission Capability), and CBM (Capacity Benefit Margin).
The group noted that "few" of the recent RTO compliance filings had showed any "meaningful steps" toward interregional coordination,