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Perspective

The musings of a utility staffer-written in a spirit of respect for all those staffers who have come to terms with their innermost fears.
Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 2003

who file requests at FERC. That way, maybe FERC would OK our recommendation. Unless Congress complained.

But the second group said that we needed other "mechanisms" for achieving this goal of a single market monitor. They asked us to come up with a "structural" way of having one market monitor that interfaced with three other market monitors in a "complementary" way. Although that would make four market monitors, not one, the second group insists this is just "another way" of having just one market monitor.

But the real scuttlebutt is that some people just don't like the way other people do their market monitoring, no matter who it is. So even though we are barely pretending to make progress, this is not really a problem. Most people make peace with what they have to do for their job, or else they don't last very long.

This whole monitoring thing just proves how smart my management team really is. It's the same thing with price convergence.

We are trying to glue three markets together across seams so that we get different prices to converge to a single number. But the market is not liquid. As long as sellers want to sell high and buyers want to buy low, artificial convergence is about all you're going to get. The boat won't float. If you ask me, we'll sooner see all three markets floundering in the rapids than three boats rafted (handcuffed) together.

Some people say we should work on data sharing. We could take that recommendation to the Filers, who could propose an idea to FERC, so that FERC could decide. But that would take lawyers, and the lawyers, we hear, say that they cannot be so bold as to file something with FERC if the Filers have a conflict of interest in the matter, which they do. (I'm not a lawyer so I don't quite understand how this differs from all the other issues the Filers file.)

So the polite thing, I'm told, is not to make a recommendation on data sharing. We will go back to working on a methodology to develop a criterion for proposals on market monitoring and price convergence. We'll need six months. We intend to put that in our next progress report. We have a good chance of being able to meet that report deadline, so the RTOs won't be late because of us.

How It All Holds Together

How is it that the Grid continues to work? Well, I'll tell you.

About 10 minutes before power is delivered, the Big Guys that control such things put their heads together and decide who gets how much power, and where it goes. And when I say Big Guys, I mean California, which throws a fit if it can't have its imports, and BPA, which owns a big piece of the Grid, plus lots of plants.

Now, as you know, BPA doesn't want to be blamed for California's problems. And California, of course, is quick to point fingers. So the two of them figure it out. Most of the time,