July 1, 2001
L.A. Loves a Loophole
There's no getting around it...
But the standards board must surmount differences with electric brethren before repeating its gas industry success.
Perhaps the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB) wants to tackle electricity because it doesn't have much else to do anymore in the area of gas standards.
But don't tell that to executive director Rae McQuaid, who can rattle off a whole host of initiatives on which the Board recently has worked that have nothing to do with electricity, including:
- standards implementing FERC Order 637
- procedures for ranking gas pipeline contracts
- protocols for transferring business information.
McQuaid laughs at the thought of a GISB with nothing to do. "We have GISB meetings pretty much every day of the week, so I would hesitate to say that our work is done," she says with a tone of understatement. Most of the executive committee, as well as the subcommittees, she points out, have not been involved at all in the energy standards board discussion. "We have work to do," she assures.
For a hint of how complicated GISB's gas sector work can be, try reading through its most recent report filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding its activities over the past several months with respect to business practices for natural gas pipelines. The reports highlight progress discussed at GISB's executive committee meeting held in Houston on Dec. 14. They document progress of GISB subgroups, such as the subcommittees on Common Codes , Imbalances, Business Practices, and XML (an Internet communications protocol). Work continues on such matters as nominations cycles, recall terms, biddable and non-biddable capacity releases, imbalance netting, audit statements, and the like. ()
"You look at our annual plan for the past several years, McQuaid adds, "and they have been very full. So I don't know if you could say that we went out looking for this. It came looking for us."
Specifically, the and to which McQuaid refers is the effort underway to hammer out a proposal that would create a combined electric and natural gas standards board. Factually speaking, McQuaid is correct that the initiative came looking for them. In September 1999, the Coalition on Uniform Business Rules (CUBR) approached GISB, asking the gas group to consider taking on the task of writing standards for wholesale and retail electric transactions.
Since then, GISB has moved methodically, taking time to gauge the level of support for a new organization, which would subsume GISB, and to determine whether the role of looking at the issue would be appropriate for the Board. A year-and-a-half later, GISB is still not ready to put its idea for a single, combined energy standards board to a yea-or-nay vote. It's latest action, taken at a board meeting March 1, simply tweaked a previously issued "strawman" document, or draft proposal, as well as gave the green light to continue with the overall effort. The vote at the board meeting, as GISB member Jim Templeton puts it, said, "Yes, this is something that we can keep talking about."
In many respects, GISB looks like a natural