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State Regulators: Driven By Reliability

Can natural gas supply keep up with demand for power?
Fortnightly Magazine - November 2004

implemented in Michigan.

Q: What is the issue of greatest importance in Michigan?

A: Service reliability is the number one issue facing the Michigan energy industry today. When Michiganians flip the switch they expect the lights to come on. The Aug. 14, 2003, blackout was a vivid reminder of just how highly interconnected and vulnerable the nation's electric grid has become.

Action on the part of state utility commissions, regional transmission organizations, and Congress are required to close the loop on national reliability matters, and provide greater assurance that another blackout will not occur. The MPSC has inquired into utility vegetation management procedures, ordered reporting on how generation and transmission load requirements will be met, and implemented stricter service quality and reliability standards. MISO has improved its monitoring and communication capabilities to address deficiencies raised in blackout investigations. Congress should now act to pass mandatory reliability standards with penalties for noncompliance and place the responsibility of grid stability on FERC.

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"Arizona utilities have not sought, and the commission has not granted, pre-approval of cost recovery for participation in infrastructure projects. The unique and extraordinary circumstances in Arizona's natural-gas infrastructure support the commission's consideration of pre-approved costs."

"Energy efficiency and demand response are key, but they cannot meet the full need, and California's economy will depend on our ability to build new power plants where they are needed."

"Preservation of Kentucky's low-cost electricity is the state's highest priority."

"One issue that was highlighted during this past January was the region's dependency upon natural gas for electricity generation."

"MISO is currently the only RTO that has an established regional state committee (RSC)-the Organization of MISO States (OMS)."

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