After Congress enacted the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, the electric utility industry focused considerable attention on what seemed the key provisions of the acid rain program: e.g., emission allowance trading. In contrast, the highly technical, seemingly innocuous continuous emission monitoring (CEM) provision received scant attention (em only a few engineers took notice. We now know that emission trading and other supposed key provisions had only a modest impact on utilities. CEM, however, demanded a surprisingly large effort from utilities, involving considerable cost and compliance risk plus required reporting of sensitive data.
Now comes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with its massive "Giga-NOPR" for electric utility competition. Issued March 29, 1995, the Giga-NOPR has caused quite a stir (em and rightly so. The FERC proposes that utilities make their wholesale transmission facilities as convenient for outside parties (including competitors) to use as they are for the utilities themselves. Effectively, a utility must either spin off its transmission/operations departments into an unaffiliated entity or, at least, substantially isolate these departments.