Management expert Peter F. Drucker has observed that our society has entered a "post-capitalist" stage in which economic activity is organized around information: "The basic economic resource ... is no longer 'capital' nor 'natural resources'... nor 'labor.' It is and will be knowledge."1 In Orders 636 and 563, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) drafted the gas industry into joining this information revolution.
The FERC wisely recognized that natural gas industry participants were best-suited to develop the standardized formats and protocols required for capacity release and other transactions. The Commission, however, let the pipelines determine the "look and feel" of their proprietary electronic bulletin boards (EBBs) while mandating that certain information be made available. The wisdom of this policy has been called into question by some industry participants.
Initially, the EBB Working Groups labored mightily and
accomplished much to create the data standards for capacity release. Now the torch has passed to the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB) to develop industrywide standards for customer-specific transactions. Progress, however, has been stalled by factional disputes within the industry. The gas energy information "atlas" is balkanized into the "local roads" and unmapped territories of proprietary EBBs. A patchwork of isolated systems links clusters of market centers to intra- and interstate pipeline systems.