As one of the early voices in the "reliability debate," urging all of us not to lose sight of the importance of reliability of electric bulk power supply (see, for example, my article in the Oct. 11, 1990, issue of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Northeast Blackout of 1965), I applaud the FORTNIGHTLY for sponsoring a forum on "Reliability, Transmission and Competition" in its June 1, 1997 issue (p. 45). By doing so, your magazine has provided an important public service.
While reading the contributions of your eight forum participants, it was gratifying for me to find that each one of them (em policymakers, regulators, electric utility executives and power marketers (em recognized reliability as an essential ingredient in restructuring the electric power supply industry. This was not so back in 1988, when the original Notices of Proposed Rulemaking dealing with the then-proposed changes in the electric power supply industry (identified as Docket Nos. RM88-4-000 and RM88-5-000) were promulgated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Although a large part of the credit for this change in attitude must be given to the electric utility industry for its persuasive articulation of the importance of electric bulk power supply reliability considerations in any program of greater competition, much credit is also due to the other participants in the reliability debate for keeping an open mind on this important issue. Quite particularly, credit is due to the FERC (em as it is now constituted (em for its willingness to listen to the experts and for establishing a framework where organizations such as the North American Electric Reliability Council and the Electric Power Research Institute can provide meaningful input to the entire process.